BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) - Ex-President Nestor Kirchner, husband of Argentina's current leader and a hopeful to resume the office, emerged successfully from emergency surgery on a key artery to his brain Sunday, his doctors said.
Cabinet ministers shared the news as they came to show support for the first family after the operation on Kirchner's right carotid artery at the Los Arcos hospital in Buenos Aires' Palermo district.
"The news is good; the operation is over," Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana said.
"Everything's OK ... we now know that he's come out OK and we've come to accompany the family," Labor Minister Carlos Tomada said.
Kirchner's wife and successor as president, Cristina Fernandez, and their two children were with him in the hospital, the state news agency Telam said.
The former leader "presented this morning symptoms caused by disease in his right carotid artery that require surgical treatment," Dr. Marcelo Ballesteros, deputy director of the Presidential Medical Unit, said before the operation.
Ballesteros said later that the hour-long surgery was successful and that "the patient remains in intensive care, under observation."
The president's office released no other details about Kirchner's condition, but the doctor who performed the surgery, Victor Caramutti, told the C5N news station that Kirchner had plaque in the artery.
They decided to operate after Kirchner had trouble moving his upper left arm Sunday morning, Caramutti said.
Carotid artery disease involves the narrowing of the main arteries that carry blood from the heart to the brain. These arteries can thicken with fatty substances and deposits of cholesterol known as plaque, slowing the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain and increasing the risk of a stroke.
"Let's not dramatize the situation. Once the plaque is removed the patient is in perfect condition. It was a plaque that was removed completely and everything is satisfactory," Caramutti said.
Kirchner, 59, now a deputy in the national legislature's lower house, was president in 2003-2007 and has all but declared his candidacy to try to succeed his wife in 2011.