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Samsung's chairman Lee Kun-hee in stable condition after heart attack, surgery

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Samsung Electronics Co. chairman Lee Kun Hee remains hospitalized but is already in stable condition following an operation at the Samsung Medical Center early Sunday.

Lee, who helped propel Samsung to become South Korea's leading company and one of the world's major players in the electronics and mobile phone industry, was rushed to Soonchunhyang University Hospital located near his home where he was given cardiopulmonary resuscitation after a heart attack late Saturday .

The 72-year-old business magnate was then moved to a Samsung affiliated tertiary hospital, the Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, where he had stent placement, a procedure that involves inserting wire mesh stainless steel tube into the body to widen the arteries and keep them from closing. Heart attack, also known as myocardial infarction, happens when a portion of the heart muscle gets damaged because of reduced blood supply. The operation will allow the blood to flow smoothly and thus prevent heart attack.

Officials from the Samsung Medical Center said that Lee's natural breathing has returned but he still needs to use a breathing apparatus while recovering from his surgery. Hospital officials also said that they expect no permanent damage and anticipate good results given the speedy medical intervention. It isn't clear, though, how long Lee is expected to remain in the hospital.

Named by Forbes Magazine as one of the most powerful people in the world in 2013, Lee has been battling with several illnesses since the 1990s when he underwent a lung cancer surgery in the U.S. Because of his respiratory problems, Lee spends winters in countries with warmer climates. In August last year, he was hospitalized when his cold worsened to pneumonia. Samsung also had to postpone a banquet last year because of Lee's pneumonia.

In 1971, Samsung founder Lee Byung-chull tapped Lee to lead what is now South Korea's most valuable conglomerate because his two older sons did not show interest in the business. Samsung is now a global leader in the smartphone industry, becoming the largest mobile phone maker in the world by unit sales in 2012. The company also has stakes in construction, shipbuilding, hotel and insurance. 

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