Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in hospital with heart problems

Former premier undergoing tests in Monaco

(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 26, 2019 former Italian PM and leader of the right-wing party Forza Italia Silvio Berlusconi leaves the polling station after casting his vote in Milan. Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi has been admitted to hospital in Monaco after suffering heart problems, a spokesman and his doctor said on January 14, 2021. / AFP / Miguel MEDINA
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Controversial former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was admitted to hospital in Monaco with heart problems.

Mr Berlusconi’s personal doctor, Alberto Zangrillo, made an urgent visit to the former premier's home because of an irregular heartbeat.

Dr Zangrillo said he transferred him to a nearby hospital because he did not think it was wise to take him to Italy, which is about 15 kilometres from the small city-state in the south of France.

The 84-year-old’s spokesman said the media tycoon “is at the Cardiothoracic Hospital in Monaco for tests. He will return home within a few days".

The former prime minister, who was in office between 2008 and 2011, was in hospital for 11 days last September suffering from coronavirus.

He said at the time it was "perhaps the most difficult ordeal of my life".

He caught the disease after returning from a holiday at his luxury villa in Sardinia. Two of his children were also infected, as was his companion Marta Fascina.

"Thank heavens, thanks to the doctors, I got over what was perhaps the most difficult ordeal of my life. Once again, I seem to have got away with it," he said as he left hospital.

Mr Berlusconi underwent heart surgery in 2016 and also survived prostate cancer.

Shares in Mediaset, the broadcaster controlled by the Berlusconi family, jumped as much as 2.9 per cent on Thursday after initial reports of his latest health scare.

Traders cited speculation about potential ownership changes at the group if Berlusconi's condition worsened.

Mediaset has been at the centre of a legal battle between Mr Berlusconi's family holding Fininvest and its second-largest shareholder, French media giant Vivendi, for the past five years.

Mr Berlusconi is head of the opposition Forza Italia party. His illness comes as Italy was hit by political chaos after a junior coalition party quit the government, depriving it of a majority in parliament.

Newspapers speculate that some Forza Italia legislators might agree to desert party ranks and help prop up Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to prevent early elections.