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Senator Still In Cardiac Intensive Care

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FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA — North Carolina's senior senatorremained in cardiac intensive care at a Virginia hospital.His chief aide says that's to be expected given the complicatedsurgery on the 80-year-old Jesse Helms.

Helms' chief of staff Jimmy Broughton says there won't be majornews about the senator's condition on a daily basis because hishealing process is very gradual.

Helms had open heart surgery last week to replace a pig valvethat was installed in one heart chamber a decade ago and to repairanother heart valve.

Broughton says the senator is expected to be in the hospital forawhile.

Helms announced last August that he plans to retire next January after 30 years in the Senate. He said he wanted to spend more time with his family during his twilight years.

Helms has had a variety of ailments in recent years.

He had knee-replacement surgery in 1998 and was diagnosed with "peripheral neuropathy," a condition that numbs his feet and impairs his balance, in 2000.

That same year, he was hospitalized with a serious case of pneumonia, and last year he had fluid drained from his lungs after contracting what aides described as "a bad head cold."

Helms is known for his strong opposition of communist regimes and his criticism of foreign aid. He used the chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he held from 1995 to 2001, to promote his views.