Arnold Schwarzenegger is recovering from heart surgery Wednesday to replace a damaged aortic valve. The actor is in stable condition, his spokeswoman said.

A Los Angeles TV station said that the actor is at the University of Southern California's hospital in Los Angeles, but the medical center would not confirm that report. Schwarzenegger's publicist said that he and his wife, Maria Shriver, would like a "tiny modicum of privacy."

His doctors expect a full recovery, according to a statement yesterday from publicist Catherine Olim, and he will not have to change his lifestyle or take heart or blood medication.

Although the news of the surgery prompted speculation that the five-time Mr. Universe had damaged himself with steroids, the official statement made it clear that the problem with his heart was a congenital one. He apparently chose to have the surgery now, during a lull in his acting schedule.

"I've never felt sick or had any symptons at all, but I knew I'd have to take care of this condition sooner or later," Schwarzenegger said in the statement. "I said to the doctors, 'Let's do it now while I'm young and healthy.' They agreed this was the way to go." He is 49.

Schwarzenegger says he will rest until May. That's when he is scheduled to begin the press junket for Batman and Robin, in which he stars as the nefarious Mr. Freeze.

Schwarzenegger had one of two options for his replacement valve, according to an official at the American Heart Association. He could chose a mechanical valve or a tissue valve--the common biological tissue used comes from a pig.

Dana Butler of the AHA also says that it wouldn't be "unreasonable" for Schwarzenegger to be up and ready by the end of May, especially because he is quite fit. However, she cautions the movie star to be sensitive to any heart changes, eat well and exercise regularly. And noted cigar-chomper Arnold will have to cut out tobacco, Butler noted.

(Updated 6 p.m. PT)

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