Former President George W. Bush successfully underwent a heart procedure in Dallas on Tuesday after doctors discovered a blockage in an artery during his annual physical, Bush spokesman Freddy Ford said.
“At the recommendation of his doctors, President Bush agreed to have a stent placed to open the blockage,” Ford said. “The procedure was performed successfully this morning, without complication, at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.” Bush, 67, is expected to be discharged Wednesday.
The blockage was discovered Monday during Bush’s physical at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, where the nation’s 43rd president lives. Bush was described as being “in high spirits” and eager to return home.
“He is grateful to the skilled medical professionals who have cared for him,” Ford said. “He thanks his family, friends, and fellow citizens for their prayers and well wishes. And he encourages us all to get our regular check-ups.”
Stents are mesh scaffoldings that prop open arteries typically clogged by years of cholesterol buildup. About half a million people have stents inserted in the U.S. each year, generally involving an overnight stay in the hospital.
Doctors usually guide a narrow tube through a blood vessel near the groin up to the heart, inflate a tiny balloon to flatten the blockage and insert the stent. Sometimes, they insert it through an artery in the wrist to lower the risk of bleeding.
Doctors often recommend first trying medication to treat a clogged artery. More severe blockages, particularly in several arteries, may require bypass surgery. Arteries can reclog, so patients often are put on heart-friendly diets and medication.
But George W. Bush isn’t the only past politician whose had heart trouble. Former President Bill Clinton had urgent coronary bypass surgery in 2004 due to significant atherosclerosis. Former President Eisenhower and former president Lyndon B. Johnson both had heart attacks. And although he initially had eyes set on presidency, former Vice President Dick Cheney had 5 heart attacks, angioplasty to unblock coronary arteries, stents to keep them open and placement the of a pacemaker with a defibrillator to counteract abnormal heart rhythms. At one point Cheney’s heart had deteriorated so far that he required a Ventricular Assist Device, a battery powered implant that helped his severely damaged heart pump until he ultimately had a heart transplant.