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Ex-President Clinton Undergoes Heart Procedure

Stents inserted to reopen clogged coronary artery

THURSDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Former President Bill Clinton was said to be "in good spirits" Thursday evening in a New York City hospital after he had two stents inserted into a clogged heart artery.

The 63-year-old Clinton, who underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 2004, had been complaining of chest pains, according to published reports.

"Today President Bill Clinton was admitted to the Columbia Campus of New York Presbyterian Hospital after feeling discomfort in his chest," the former president's counselor, Douglas Band, said in a prepared statement.

"Following a visit to his cardiologist, he underwent a procedure to place two stents in one of his coronary arteries," Band said, adding that 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."

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton left Washington, D.C., and headed to New York to be with her husband.

ABC News reported that its chief political correspondent, George Stephanopoulos, said that sources told him "this is not life-threatening." Stephanopoulos, who once worked for Clinton in the White House, noted Clinton's non-stop work ethic and said the former president has worked "20 hours a day for the last 20 years," the network said.

Stents are tiny mesh scaffolds or tubes that are used to prop open an artery after it has been unclogged in an angioplasty procedure. In 2004, when clogged arteries first hospitalized Clinton, he underwent quadruple bypass surgery because of four blocked arteries, some of which had squeezed almost completely shut, the Associated Press reported.

Angioplasty, which usually includes placing stents, is a common medical procedure, with more than half a million stents inserted into patients each year in the United States.

But with bypass surgery or angioplasty, arteries can often clog up again, requiring another procedure years later.

"It's not unexpected" for Clinton to need another procedure now, Dr. Clyde Yancy, cardiologist at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas and president of the American Heart Association, told the AP.

The sections of arteries and veins used to create detours around the original blockages tend to develop clogs five to 10 years after a bypass, Yancy explained. New blockages also can develop in new areas.

"This kind of disease is progressive. It's not a one-time event, so it really points out the need for constant surveillance" and treating risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, he said.

Clinton has been working in recent weeks to help relief efforts in Haiti. Since leaving office in 2001, he has maintained a busy schedule working on humanitarian projects through his foundation.

More information

To learn more about stents visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Associated Press; ABC News

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