Health

Ex-President Clinton Undergoes Heart Procedure

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Former President Bill Clinton had two stents inserted to prop open a clogged heart artery open. Doctors say Clinton can go back to work on Monday. Clinton had quadruple bypass surgery in 2004.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Im Renee Montagne.

Bill Clinton left a Manhattan hospital this morning. He spent the night there after undergoing a procedure to clear a blocked artery.

The former president has a history of heart trouble, and as NPR's Robert Smith reports, doctors treated Mr. Clinton after her experienced discomfort in his chest.

ROBERT SMITH: Bill Clinton has been keeping a busy schedule for the last month. He is the U.N. special envoy to Haiti and has traveled there twice since the earthquake. A few days ago, Clinton started to feel pressure in his chest - not pain, exactly, but constriction, even when he was resting. Clinton has quadruple bypass surgery in 2004, so he knew what to do. The Secret Service took him back to the same hospital: Columbia Presbyterian. Clinton walked in on his own. Dr. Alan Schwartz(ph), the chief cardiologist, ruled out what everyone had feared.

Dr. ALAN SCHWARTZ (Chief Cardiologist, Columbia Presbyterian Hospital): His initial tests, electrocardiogram and blood tests, showed no evidence of heart attack. Again, I repeat, he did not have a heart attack or any damage to his heart.

SMITH: They sent a camera up into the former presidents arteries and found that one of those four bypasses was clogged. Doctors say they used stents, little mesh tubes to reopen the blocked artery. Although Clinton was once known for his less than healthy habits, Dr. Schwartz says the man has changed.

Dr. SCHWARTZ: This was not a result of either his lifestyle or his diet, which have been excellent. He has exercised regularly. He is in excellent condition, as evidenced both by what he does and by objective testing with stress testing.

SMITH: Schwartz says it's not uncommon for bypass surgery to result in more blockages like this after six years. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left a meeting at the White House to travel to New York to be with her husband. She will not, however, postpone a planned trip this weekend to the Middle East. President Clinton was already up and about last night. His doctor says he can return to his office, to work on Haitis recovery, on Monday.

Robert Smith, NPR News, New York.

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