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Clinton has stents inserted to open a clogged artery

Ex-president, 63, had quadruple bypass in 2004

By Deepti Hajela and Marilynn Marchione
Associated Press / February 12, 2010

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NEW YORK - Bill Clinton, who had quadruple bypass surgery more than five years ago, was hospitalized yesterday 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 former president 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 Clinton participated in a conference call on earthquake relief as he was being wheeled into an operating room.

He expected Clinton to be released from the hospital today.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled 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 Clinton had been feeling repeated discomfort in his chest, and tests showed that one of the bypasses from the surgery was completely blocked.

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

The doctor said Clinton could return to work Monday.

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

In an angioplasty, the procedure Clinton had yesterday, 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 worldwide.

“It’s not unexpected’’ for Clinton to need another procedure years after his bypass, said Dr. Clyde Yancy, cardiologist at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas and the president of the American Heart Association.

Complications are rare. The death rate from nonemergency angioplasty is well under 1 percent, said Dr. Spencer King, a cardiologist at St. Joseph’s Heart and Vascular Institute in Atlanta and past president of the cardiology college.

Aides to Hillary Rodham Clinton said she planned to go ahead with a previously scheduled trip to the Persian Gulf. The trip was to begin this afternoon, but now she is planning to leave tomorrow so that she does not have to rush back to Washington.

Bill Clinton’s legend as an unhealthy eater was sealed in 1992, when the newly minted presidential candidate took reporters on jogs to McDonald’s.

Friends and family say Clinton changed his eating habits for the better after his bypass surgery.

Other than his heart ailments, Clinton has suffered only typical problems that come with aging.

In 1996, he had a precancerous lesion removed from his nose, and a year before a benign cyst was taken off his chest. Shortly after leaving office, he had a cancerous growth removed from his back.