Arnold Schwarzenegger recovering after open-heart surgery

The Hollywood superstar and former California governor is on the mend after a routine valve replacement turned into an emergency heart surgery.
3:59 | 03/31/18

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Transcript for Arnold Schwarzenegger recovering after open-heart surgery
Health news this morning for a big name. The former governor of California, Arnold schwarzenegger, is reportedly in stable condition this morning after he had emergency heart surgery. He went in for a preplanned less invasive procedure but due to complications it turned into emergency open heart surgery. Marci Gonzalez has more. Out of surgery he is already on the road to recovery. Exactly, the governator is never one to miss a play on one of his catchphrases and his spokesperson shows he is in good spirits as he recovers this morning here in Los Angeles. After pledge open heart surgery Arnold schwarzenegger's spokesperson said the first words out of the former governor and Hollywood superstar's mouth -- I'm back. Back on the mend after what was supposed to be a less invasive procedure to replace a valve put in back in 1997 because of a congenital heart defect. Schwarzenegger opening up to Barbara Walters about complications that followed that surgery. It was a year unlike any other year I've ever had because there was, you know, great success with the movjes and great success with the business, but then, bang, all of a sudden I was lying in a hospital with a heart operation. You could have died. Were you scared? I was very scared. You're right. I covld have died. Reporter: More than two decades later the now 70-year-old spokesperson says the valve had outlived its life expectancy so he chose to replace it making a last-minute decision to cancel a trip to Washington, D.C. I'm sorry I cannot be with you today. Reporter: To undergo surgery. His spokesperson writing during that procedure an open-heart surgery team was prepared in case the catheter procedure was unable to be performed. Which is what happened. The medical team calling the operation a success. And, again, we are ale told he is in stable condition. His rep praising the team at cedar sinai hospital for what he calls their tireless efforts. Dan's Paula. Let's bring in Dr. Jen Ashton. Jen, good morning. Good morning, you guys. So he went if for one procedure and then ended up having another. Is that common? Not only is it common. Here's the really important point about this story whether you are a having heart surgery, your appendix removed when you talk about a minimally invasive procedure for heart surgery, this goes on all the time. As it does for the rest of the body there is always the possibility of needing to convert to what's called an open procedure. It's on the surgical concept. The teams are ready. They are prepared to do it. And the patient needs to be ready at least mentally if not also physically that this can happen. Either for technical reasons or get into bleeding you con Ver and that conversion can occur in seconds or minutes. He'd had several procedures leading up to this point because he was born with a congenital heart defect. How is that spotted. Congenital heart defects much more common than people think. It occurs about 1% of all burs in this country so just around 1 per every 120 babies. A lot of those are picked up in prenatal ultrasounds. You know we are looking at that fetus all the time and a lot of those will require surgery immediately after birth. But then there's a whole range of patients, adult was are living with adult congenital heart defects that are usually picked up if they have symptoms, shortness of breath, difficulty with physical exertion and then sometimes they're treated urgically. He's admitted to using steroids. Says he has no regrets. Could that be a factor. There was a study last year that was done out of Massachusetts general hospital that showed that body 3wi8ders who use steroids did have a negative effect on the arteries, plaque buildup, the heart muscle. Not so much heart valves but to be clear, steroids, they might give you big muscles but they are not good for the rest of the body. Jen Ashton, we appreciate it. Thank you very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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