Gen. Augusto Pinochet suffered an acute heart attack Sunday and doctors, using a catheter to clear his arteries, "virtually rescued him from death," his son said.
Doctors called the former dictator's condition life threatening, and a spokesman said he received last rites.
Dr. Juan Ignacio Vergara said the catheter procedure was successful, but that Pinochet remained in serious but stable condition some seven hours after being admitted to the Santiago Military hospital.
Vergara said Pinochet's condition is "indeed life threatening," especially because of his age. Pinochet turned 91 a week ago.
He said the catheter was used to enlarge Pinochet's arteries to allow the flow of blood.
"The procedure is similar to a by-pass," he said.
Pinochet's spokesman, retired Gen. Guillermo Garin, said the former ruler was administered the last rites.
The retired general, who has been under house arrest, was rushed to the hospital after suffering "an acute" heart attack and a buildup of fluid in his lungs, the hospital said earlier in a statement. "His condition is serious but stable," it read.
The brief statement said Pinochet was at the hospital's emergency room undergoing treatment.
Pinochet's younger son, Marco Antonio, said his father had been "virtually rescued from death."
"We are now in the hands of doctors. My father is in very bad condition," he said as he left the hospital.
A grandson of Pinochet, Felipe, also after visiting him at the hospital, said his grandfather was "out of danger."
Pinochet, who ruled from 1973 until 1990, was taken to the hospital from his suburban Santiago residence.
Dr. Vergara said Pinochet has remained conscious most of the time, as he remains at the hospital's intensive care unit.Reuse content