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Oklahoma Senator Inhofe recovering at home after heart surgery

U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) (C) hugs Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) (center L) as they cross paths during a senate vote in the early morni
U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) (C) hugs Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) (center L) as they cross paths during a senate vote in the early morni

By Karen Brooks

(Reuters) - Senator James Inhofe was recovering at home in Tulsa on Tuesday from emergency quadruple bypass heart surgery, but expects to return to Washington "soon and even stronger to continue the fight," according to a statement from the Oklahoma Republican.

Inhofe, 78, had the surgery in a Tulsa hospital on Friday after doctors found a blockage during a routine visit, he said. He was released from the hospital on Tuesday afternoon, a spokeswoman for the senator said.

"The discovery shocked me as I had no visible symptoms that something was wrong," said Inhofe. "Today, I am feeling great and am fully engaged with my work here in Oklahoma."

The senator has not been given a date when he can expect to return to Washington, said spokeswoman Donelle Harder.

"They told us it would be just a few weeks," Harder said.

Inhofe, one of the most conservative U.S. senators, said his absence may cause him to "miss some upcoming votes" in the battle over funding the government, increasing the debt ceiling and funding President Barack Obama's health reform law, which has forced a partial shutdown of the federal government.

He urged colleagues on Capitol Hill to "work with vigilance to reopen the government with a bill that represents Oklahomans and all of Americans."

"My doctors agree I will return soon and even stronger to continue the fight to protect Oklahomans' freedoms," he said.

(Reporting by Karen Brooks in Austin, Texas; Editing by Greg McCune and Peter Cooney)