ROME, June 9 (UPI) -- Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will have heart surgery to correct a defective valve after a heart attack his doctor says could have killed him.
Berlusconi checked himself in to Milan's San Raffaele hospital this week in what his doctor described as a "severe state" following the attack.
"He risked his life, he risked dying and he knew it," said Dr. Alberto Zangrillo.
The 79-year-old former prime minister, who left office in 2011, has been beset by legal troubles in recent years and was convicted of tax fraud and bribery.
He will undergo the surgery to replace an aortic valve sometime next week.
"We have identified in an exact and certain way a pathology of aortic valve that is called aortic insufficiency," Zangrillo said at a press conference on Thursday.
Berlusconi was Italy's prime minister for nine years, beginning in 1994. He was ousted in 2011 at the height of the eurozone debt crisis, followed by the rapid decline in the popularity of his political party.
He announced another run for office in 2013 but ultimately decided not to run, due to insufficient support.