WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Boozman returned to his office Monday for his first full day of work since undergoing emergency heart surgery in April.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Boozman returned to his office Monday for his first full day of work since undergoing emergency heart surgery in April.

The Arkansas Republican spent much of the morning talking to reporters about his return saying he expects to make a full recovery and will seek re-election in 2016.

"I feel like I’m back where I was at but I’m probably at 90 percent," he said. "The big thing is when you are that sick and you lay around several weeks it just takes a while to get your strength back."

Rather than ease back into work, Boozman said he is "pretty much full bore" when it comes to focusing on the interests of Arkansas in Congress.

"Every day I feel I’m getting stronger and stronger and I think getting back into the routine helps," he said.

Boozman described matter-of-factly how close he came to losing his life from a tear to his aorta that came within a millimeter of a critical valve.

The Senate was not in session the fourth week of April, so Boozman was home in Rogers. That Monday he’d been out at Arvest Field to catch a minor league baseball game and had plans to be at a breakfast with area mayors on Tuesday morning.

But shortly after going to bed Monday night, he felt a cramp in his side. He got up, and feeling something wasn’t right, decided to check his blood pressure. It was alarmingly low.

His wife drove him to Mercy Hospital – leaving him off at the emergency room as she parked the car. He went in and chatted with the staff and eventually got around to saying he didn’t feel good. Initial tests showed no problem with his heart but an MRI showed a tear inside his aorta was about a millimeter away from reaching a valve that if damaged could have been fatal.

"After the imaging the whole tone changed," Boozman said.

The doctor told him to sit down and be quiet or he could die immediately. He was soon taken in for a nine-hour complex surgery that required his chest to be opened so that surgeons could replace a portion of the main artery leading into his heart with an artificial aorta.

Following the surgery, Boozman said, he was very weak. He was unable to sit up in bed for the first three weeks but eventually regained his strength and was put in a cardiac rehab program.

"Sadly, most of the people who develop this die before they reach the hospital and a pretty significant percentage die on the operating table. The good news is that if you get through it the chances for a full recovery are pretty good," Boozman said.

Boozman returned to Capitol Hill last Friday for a breakfast celebration with his staff.

"Everyone is glad to have him back in the office. People have more spring in their step," said Sara Lasure, his communications director.

Boozman said he is grateful to everyone at Mercy Hospital who helped care for him and to all the Arkansans and others who wished him well.

"There were lots of prayers and tremendous support," he said.

Now back in Washington, Boozman expects to keep a full schedule but will refrain from overdoing it.

"I’m going to try to be selective and concentrate on things that are needed for the people of Arkansas," he said.