Clinton recovering from heart surgery

Former President Bill Clinton, who had quadruple bypass surgery more than five years ago, was taken to hospital to have a clogged heart artery opened after suffering discomfort in his chest.

Two stents resembling tiny mesh scaffolds were placed inside the artery as part of a medical procedure that is common for people with severe heart disease.

The 63-year-old Mr Clinton was “in good spirits and will continue to focus on the work of his foundation and Haiti’s relief and long-term recovery efforts,” said an adviser, Douglas Band.

Terry McAuliffe, former Democratic National Committee chairman and a close friend of the Clintons, said Mr Clinton participated in a conference call on earthquake relief as he was being wheeled into an operating room.

He expected Mr Clinton to be released from the hospital today.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton travelled from Washington to New York to be with her husband, who underwent the procedure at New York Presbyterian Hospital, the same place where his bypass surgery was done in September 2004.

At that time, four of his arteries were blocked, some almost completely, and he was in danger of an imminent heart attack.

Cardiologist Allan Schwartz said the former president had been feeling discomfort in his chest for several days, and tests showed that one of the bypasses from the surgery was completely blocked.

Instead of trying to open the blocked bypass, doctors reopened one of his original blocked arteries and inserted the two stents. The procedure took about an hour, and Mr Clinton was able to get up two hours later, Dr Schwartz said.

There was no sign the former president had suffered a heart attack, and the new blockage was not a result of his diet, Dr Schwartz said.

The doctor said Mr Clinton could return to work on Monday.

“The procedure went very smoothly,” Dr Schwartz said, describing Mr Clinton’s prognosis as "excellent".

In an angioplasty, the procedure Mr Clinton had, doctors thread a tube through a blood vessel in the groin to a blocked artery and inflate a balloon to flatten the clog. Often, one or more stents are used to prop the artery open.

The angioplasty is usually done with the patient awake but sedated. It’s one of the most common medical procedures done worldwide. More than a million angioplasties are done in the United States each year, most involving stents.


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