Open heart surgery for Speaker of Parliament

Matti Vanhanen, 63, will be off for about six weeks while he recovers. During this time his two Deputy Speakers will cover his work.

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File picture of Matti Vanhanen / Credit: Vanhanen 2018 presidential campaign website

The Speaker of Parliament, and former Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre) is having open heart surgery on Thursday.

The 63-year old politician has had a number of health issues in the last year including heart problems and treatment for cancer, and he’ll be off work on sick leave for at least six weeks while he recovers from the latest surgery.

Vanhanen suffers from arrhythmia – in layman’s terms his heart beats with an irregular rhythm.

“The surgery has been around for some time now. It is a preventive operation in which the valve is replaced and the aorta is supported. In addition, some operations are being carried out to prevent arrhythmias” he said during the summer.

Vanhanen said that neither the valve replacement nor aortic support is urgently needed, which is why he’s been waiting for surgery. The veteran politician also stresses that his condition hasn’t impacted his ability to work.

“Because of arrhythmias, I have strong medication that calms the heart rate” he explained.

During his absence the work will be covered by Parliament’s two deputy speakers.

Talking politics 

In an interview with Lännen Media on Thursday, Vanhanen says it was a mistake for him to step down as PM and Centre party leader in summer 2010.

He says he wanted to give the new PM Mari Kiviniemi (Centre) at that time a whole year in office to boost the party’s 2011 election chances.

However with hindsight, Vanhanen says while this has worked in other countries it did not work so well in Finland, and the party were voted out of power.