Former President Bush Gets Heart Stent to Open Artery

Former President George W. Bush
Former U.S. President George W. Bush speaks during Naturalization Ceremony at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas on July 10, 2013. Photographer: Cooper Neill/WireImage via Getty Images

Former President George W. Bush received a stent to relieve blockage in a heart artery this morning, and doctors said the procedure was successful with no complications, according to a statement from his office.

“President Bush is in high spirits, eager to return home tomorrow and resume his normal schedule on Thursday,” a spokesman, Freddy Ford, said in the statement.

Bush, 67, underwent the procedure at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital near his home in Dallas. The blockage was discovered during the former president’s annual physical examination yesterday, according to the statement.

Bush won two terms as president, serving from January 2001 to January 2009. He has been living in Dallas since leaving the White House.

The former president was known as a physical fitness buff and had no prior history of heart trouble. He played baseball as an undergraduate at Yale University and was an avid runner until switching to mountain biking after injuring a calf muscle in 2003.

A 2006 physical fitness report released by the White House at the time said Bush exercised six days a week, including bicycling, low-impact treadmill work, and workouts on an elliptical machine.

Stent Procedure

About a half million Americans each year receive stents. In the procedure, doctors thread a balloon-tipped catheter into the heart artery and inflate it to clear a path through the blockage. A metal stent in the shape of a circular scaffold is then inflated and left in the artery to hold it open.

Most patients who have elective procedures when a blockage is detected early -- before symptoms of chest pain develop -- are treated with drug-coated devices from Abbott Laboratories, Boston Scientific Corp. or Medtronic Inc. The drug-coating prevents tissue from building up around the device, and requires the patient to take blood-thinning drugs for at least a year.

Bush’s treatment is similar to the procedure that former President Bill Clinton underwent in 2010, when brief episodes of chest pain led doctors to insert two stents. Clinton also underwent a quadruple bypass in 2004, a much more invasive surgery that involves cracking open the chest and has a better track record for warding off heart attacks and death in people suffering from heart disease.

Presidential Record

During Bush’s first year in office, the U.S. was attacked by al-Qaeda terrorists who killed more than 3,000 people by commandeering four commercial airliners and ramming them into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon outside Washington and a field in Pennsylvania.

As a result, he ordered U.S. forces into Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban and attempt to break up al-Qaeda. The terrorist group’s leader, Osama bin Laden, eluded capture while Bush was in office. He was killed in a raid by U.S. special forces in May 2011 in Pakistan.

Bush also oversaw the 2003 invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein. The initial rationale for the war was to prevent Hussein from supplying terrorists with chemical and biological weapons. No substantial caches of such weapons were found.

After winning a second term in 2004 against Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, Bush saw his popularity plummet in his final four years in office. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan dragged on and the housing bubble burst, spurring a financial crisis from which the U.S. is still recovering. The largest U.S. tax cuts, enacted in 2001 and in 2003, dominated his economic record.

The George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University was dedicated in April in Dallas.

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