“Normally They Have 4 Heart Surgeons in Surgery. I Had 12”: Arnold Schwarzenegger Detailed His Unusual Bypass Surgery in 1997

Published 02/26/2023, 8:15 AM EST

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Arnold Schwarzenegger is a man with many accomplishments. But every accomplishment warrants a price. For Schwarzenegger, it was in the form of multiple surgeries in his life. The bodybuilding star won the Mr. Olympia title seven times, and soon shifted his gears to movies, where he predominantly worked as an action hero. Years of hard work and bulking up muscles put a strain on the Austrian’s health. In 1997, Schwarzenegger had to undergo the first of his many heart valve surgeries.

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In a 1997 interview for the movie Batman and Robin, the Austrian star talked about financial advice, his makeup, Planet Hollywood, and his heart surgery. Schwarzenegger narrated a tale about how there were 12 surgeons in his OT (Operation Theatre) instead of the usual four. Here’s what he had to say.

Arnold Schwarzenegger described his first heart surgery rather hilariously

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Arnold Schwarzenegger played the role of Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin, where George Clooney and Chris O Donnell played Batman and Robin respectively. During the promotion of the film, Schwarzenneger said in an interview, “Well, you can imagine. Well, first of all, normally they have 4 heart surgeons in surgery. I had 12. So, I mean (chuckles) the whole surgery room was just filled with doctors”. He was responding to the interviewer’s question, “Do you find yourself that every doctor and nurse in the hospital is checking up on you every 5 minutes?”

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Schwarzenegger, then 50 years old, continued, “Then the nurses, normally they let you sleep from 10’o clock at night to 4 in the morning, and then they start running tests. I had a nurse coming in every half hour to take blood samples and do a test, and massage my lung, and this and that. It was quite an interesting trip, let me tell you”.

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While Schwarzenegger made a light-hearted joke about the situation, he actually underwent electric heart surgery to replace a defective, congenital, aortic heart valve. 21 years later, he required a second heart surgery.

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No heart surgery could stop Arnold Schwarzenegger from working out

In 2018, Schwarzenegger had a pulmonary heart replacement. Heart transplant patients often require a second heart surgery, since their tissue valve wears out after a certain period of time. The surgery was successful, but as an aged man, Schwarzenegger had to be careful from then. But the 75-year-old man today, who built his life from nothing, grinds himself every day with a strict workout routine. His work ethic is off the charts.

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A little trivia, Schwarzenegger, opted against the mechanical valve and chose the tissue valve instead. Reason? A mechanical valve will limit his physical activity and his ability to exercise freely. Well, he isn’t a seven-time Mr. Olympia for nothing.

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Written by:

Tanmay Roy

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Tanmay Roy is a US Sports author for EssentiallySports. He has done MBA and B.Tech in Civil Engineering.
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Edited by:

Jahnabi Choudhury

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