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Clinton moving around after heart procedure

February 11, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Bill Clinton's doctor says the former president is up and moving around after undergoing a heart procedure Thursday in New York.Adviser Douglas Band says Clinton was admitted to New York Presbyterian Hospital after feeling discomfort in his chest. He says after a visit to the cardiologist, the 63-year-old had two stents inserted to prop open a clogged coronary artery.

The procedure is common for people with severe heart disease.

Clinton "is in good spirits and will continue to focus on the work of his foundation and Haiti's relief and long-term recovery efforts," said Band.

Stents are tiny mesh scaffolds used to keep an artery open after it is unclogged in an angioplasty procedure. Doctors thread a tube through a blood vessel in the groin to a blocked artery, inflate a balloon to flatten the clog, and slide the stent into place.

Cardiologist Allan Schwartz said the former president had been feeling discomfort in his chest for several days, and tests showed that one of the bypasses from the surgery was completely blocked.

Instead of trying to open the blocked bypass, doctors reopened one of his original blocked arteries and inserted the two stents. The procedure took about an hour, and Clinton was able to get up two hours later, Schwartz said.

There was no sign the former president had suffered a heart attack, and the new blockage was not a result of his diet, Schwartz said. He says tests show that Clinton had been sticking to dietary and exercise requirements.

Clinton will be kept in the hospital overnight for observation. He's expected to be released Friday and the doctor said Clinton could resume normal activities on Monday.

"The procedure went very smoothly," Schwartz said, describing Clinton's prognosis as excellent.

Clinton has a history of heart problems. In 2004, he had quadruple bypass surgery due to four blocked arteries, some of which had squeezed almost completely shut.

The former president has been joined by his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and their daughter, Chelsea.

Secretary Clinton had been in Washington for White House meetings, but flew to New York to be with her husband. An official who was with her at the time of leaving the White House said that she appeared calm but was very concerned when told about the news of the former president, given his heart history.

Secretary Clinton was scheduled to leave for an overseas trip to Qatar and Saudi Arabia Friday. Aides say she still plans to go ahead with the previously scheduled trip to the Persian Gulf, but has delayed her departure until Saturday.

Clinton has spent the last few years traveling the world, raising money for a various causes. Just a few days ago, he went to Haiti, where he serves as U.N. Special Ambassador.

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.

Former President George H.W. Bush issued a statement after learning that President Clinton was hospitalized. "We have been in touch with President Clinton's staff and, of course, Barbara and I wish him a speedy and full recovery."

David Sherzer, a spokesman for former President George W. Bush, released the following statement: "President Bush spoke to Chelsea Clinton this afternoon and was glad to hear that her father is doing well and that his spirits are high. President Bush looks forward to continuing to work with his friend on Haiti relief and rebuilding. President and Mrs. Bush send their prayers for a speedy recovery."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.