NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Bill Clinton, who hadquadruple bypass surgery more than five years ago, was hospitalizedThursday to have a clogged heart artery opened after sufferingdiscomfort in his chest.
Two stents resembling tiny mesh scaffolds were placed inside theartery as part of a medical procedure that is common for peoplewith severe heart disease.
The 63-year-old Clinton was "in good spirits and will continueto focus on the work of his foundation and Haiti's relief andlong-term recovery efforts," said an adviser, Douglas Band.
Terry McAuliffe, former Democratic National Committee chairmanand a close friend of the Clintons, said Clinton participated in aconference call on earthquake relief as he was being wheeled intoan operating room.
He expected Clinton to be released from the hospital Friday.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled fromWashington to New York to be with her husband, who underwent theprocedure at New York Presbyterian Hospital, the same place wherehis bypass surgery was done in September 2004.
At that time, four of his arteries were blocked, some almostcompletely, and he was in danger of an imminent heart attack.
Cardiologist Allan Schwartz said the former president had beenfeeling discomfort in his chest for several days, and tests showedthat one of the bypasses from the surgery was completelyblocked.
Instead of trying to open the blocked bypass, doctors reopenedone of his original blocked arteries and inserted the two stents.The procedure took about an hour, and Clinton was able to get uptwo hours later, Schwartz said.
There was no sign the former president had suffered a heartattack, and the new blockage was not a result of his diet, Schwartzsaid.
The doctor said Clinton could return to work Monday.
"The procedure went very smoothly," Schwartz said, decribingClinton's prognosis as excellent.
In an angioplasty, the procedure Clinton had on Thursday,doctors thread a tube through a blood vessel in the groin to ablocked 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 butsedated. It's one of the most common medical procedures doneworldwide. More than a million angioplasties are done in the UnitedStates each year, most involving stents.
"It's not unexpected" for Clinton to need another procedureyears after his bypass, said Dr. Clyde Yancy, cardiologist atBaylor University Medical Center in Dallas and president of theAmerican Heart Association.
The sections of blood vessels used to create detours around theoriginal blockages tend to develop clogs five to 10 years after abypass, Yancy explained. New blockages also can develop in newareas.
"This kind of disease is progressive. It's not a one-time event,so it really points out the need for constant surveillance" andtreating risk factors such as high cholesterol and high bloodpressure, he said.
The need for another artery-opening procedure will not affectClinton's long-term prognosis, said Dr. William O'Neill, acardiologist and executive dean of clinical affairs at theUniversity of Miami's Miller School of Medicine.
"It doesn't really affect long-term survival. It's aquality-of-life thing. He'll have to have careful monitoring,regular stress tests."
O'Neill said he had done 10 or 15 such procedures in a singlepatient over a period of time, and they still live long lives.
Former Senate Republican leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, a heartsurgeon, said on his Twitter page that Clinton was "doingwell."
"Thousands of these done every week. He will be fine. He will beactive again very, very soon," Frist said.
Nearly 1 in 5 patients who have angioplasties have previouslyhad a bypass operation, according to a patient registry maintainedby the American College of Cardiology.
Doctors will have to watch Clinton closely for signs ofexcessive bleeding from the spot in the leg where doctors inserteda catheter, said Dr. Spencer King, a cardiologist at St. Joseph'sHeart and Vascular Institute in Atlanta and past president of thecardiology college.
Complications are rare. The death rate from non-emergencyangioplasty is well under 1 percent, King said.
After seeing his cardiologist, Clinton's Secret Servicemotorcade took him to the hospital, where he walked in on hisown.
A White House official said the former president's condition didnot come up during a meeting Thursday between President BarackObama and the secretary of state. The afternoon meeting took placea few hours before word of Clinton's heart procedure becamepublic.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because details ofthe meeting were considered private.
Aides to Mrs. Clinton said she still planned to go ahead with apreviously scheduled trip to the Persian Gulf. The trip was tobegin Friday afternoon, but now she is planning to leave Saturdayso that she does not have to rush back to Washington.
Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, was also with him at thehospital.
The former president has been working
in recent weeks to helprelief efforts in Haiti. Since leaving office, he has maintained abusy schedule working on humanitarian projects through hisfoundation.
Clinton's legend as an unhealthy eater was sealed in 1992, whenthe newly minted presidential candidate took reporters on jogs toMcDonald's. He liked hamburgers, steaks, french fries — lotsof them — and was a voracious eater who could gobble an apple(core and all) in two bites and ask for more.
Two of his favorite Arkansas restaurants were known for theirlarge portions — a hamburger the size of a hubcap and steaksas thick as fists.
He was famously spoofed on "Saturday Night Live" as a gluttonousMcDonald's customer.
Friends and family say Clinton changed his eating habits for thebetter after his bypass surgery.
Other than his heart ailments, Clinton has suffered only typicalproblems that come with aging.
In 1996, he had a precancerous lesion removed from his nose, anda year before a benign cyst was taken off his chest. Shortly afterleaving office, he had a cancerous growth removed from his back. In1997, he was fitted with hearing aids.
AP Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione reported from Milwaukee. Beth Fouhy in New York, and Julie Pace, Matthew Lee and Darlene Superville in Washington also contributed to this report.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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