ROME:- Controversial former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, 79, will undergo heart surgery to replace an aortic valve after suffering an attack his doctor said could have killed him. "He arrived at the hospital in a severe state, he risked his life, he risked dying and he knew it," Berlusconi's doctor Alberto Zangrillo told a news conference on Thursday, saying the operation would take place by the middle of next week. The ageing media magnate, famed for his brushes with the law and his 'bunga bunga' sex parties, was hospitalised Tuesday for tests at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan after suffering problems over the weekend.–AFP

Zangrillo said the dysfunction was "severe" and there was "only one way to correct it". "The valve must be replaced through conventional heart surgery, which involves the circulation (of blood) outside the body, direct sight of the heart by the surgeon and the replacement of the valve with an organic version," he said.