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Chase & Co. Jamie Dimon at a conference in April.


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JPMorgan Chase & Co. James Dimon is recovering following emergency heart surgery Thursday, the bank said in a memo to employees.

The procedure was successful, and the acute aortic dissection Mr. Dimon suffered was caught early. He is alert and “recovering well,” according to the memo.

Mr. Dimon, 63, checked himself into a Manhattan hospital early Thursday after experiencing chest pains, according to a person familiar with the matter.

An aortic dissection is the abnormal separation of tissues in the wall of the aorta, the large blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. It is a rare but very serious condition that occurs most commonly in men in their 60s and 70s, according to the . The inner layer of the aorta suddenly tears. Blood then flows through the opening, causing the inner and middle layers of the aorta to separate.

Its symptoms are similar to those of a heart attack, making it sometimes hard to diagnose. The condition is often fatal but can be treated if caught early. John Ritter died of an aortic dissection in 2003, when he was in his 50s.

JPMorgan Co-Presidents Daniel Pinto and are running the bank while Mr. Dimon recuperates, the memo said. The bank’s lead director, Lee Raymond, said in the memo that the board has been fully briefed on Mr. Dimon’s condition.

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Mr. Pinto runs JPMorgan’s investment bank, and Mr. Smith runs its sprawling consumer bank. As co-presidents and co-chief operating officers, they are deeply enmeshed in the bank’s day-to-day operations.

“We have been working hand-in-hand with Jamie and the Board over the past two years to help lead our company,” Messrs. Pinto and Smith said in the memo to employees. “We have also been deeply involved in all of the critical firmwide functions.”

Mr. Dimon’s illness comes at a difficult time for JPMorgan, which, like other big banks, is grappling with the spread of the coronavirus epidemic. Bank stocks have fallen sharply on fears that the outbreak will weigh on the U.S. economy, and they are scrambling to figure out when and where to move staff to make sure they can keep trading and moving money around for clients.

Mr. Dimon was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2014 and made a full recovery. The longest-serving CEO of a big U.S. bank, Mr. Dimon has said he is in no hurry to retire. Messrs. Pinto and Smith have long been considered among the top candidates to succeed him, especially if Mr. Dimon were to step down sooner than planned.

Last April, JPMorgan put two women with decades of experience at the bank— and Jennifer Piepszak—on the list of potential candidates to succeed Mr. Dimon. Ms. Lake runs the bank’s consumer lending business, and Ms. Piepszak is .

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