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Bill Clinton Has Angioplasty, Receives Two Stents
Called Cardiologist Two Days Ago: "Not Feeling Well"
Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton

February 11, 2010 -- Former President Bill Clinton "is in good spirits" and recovering from a successful angioplasty procedure in which two stents were placed, according to Clinton spokesman Douglas Band. Clinton, who had quadruple bypass surgery six years ago, had just returned from a trip to Haiti, where he has been working on the earthquake recovery effort, and was not feeling well. He made an appointment to see the chief of cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center for yesterday but because of the snowstorm had rescheduled it for today.

During his appointment this morning, Clinton and and his cardiologist decided that he should go directly to the catheterization laboratory where, according to the New York Times Caucus Blog, "Doctors inserted two stents into his native coronary artery after one of the bypass grafts from an operation five years ago became obstructed." (This is a developing story and details about the procedure are just becoming known. If this report is correct, then the bypass graft had failed, but interventional cardiologists were able to open up the artery that originally was bypassed.)

Bypass grafts (especially those using the leg artery) can close up years after surgery. Sometimes, stents can be placed inside the graft to reopen it. Less commonly, the native vessels are stented -- one of the reasons for initially choosing bypass surgery over stenting is that the disease is too widespread, or the technical challenges of placing a stent in a particular location are too great.

Clinton's 2004 bypass surgery also had been performed at New York-Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center, which is just a short distance from Clinton's Harlem offices. Clinton's daughter Chelsea was already at the hospital, and his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was seen leaving the White House this afternoon on her way to New York.

According to The New York Daily News, Clinton abruptly cancelled a meeting about his Foundation's work in Haiti with its editors yesterday afternoon. Recovery from stenting is usually quick and Clinton's spokesman stated that he "...will continue to focus on the work of his Foundation and Haiti's relief and long-term recovery efforts."

Clinton has been extremely active in public life since leaving office and a glimpse of this can be seen in this report from CNN:

Sources close to Clinton said the former president is hard to slow down and has ignored friends' advice that he take better care of himself. "He still works long days and stays up very, very late," a friend of Clinton's said. "He has gone from a frenetic pace to what most people would consider a frenetic pace."

[Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry] McAuliffe said Clinton apparently was on a conference call about Haiti as he was being wheeled into the operating room Thursday. "He was working right up until the last second," he said.

Late update: Dr. Allen Schwartz, chief of cardiology, has confirmed that one of Clinton's four bypass grafts had completely closed, and that the two stents were placed in his native coronary artery -- the one that had been previously treated with bypass. Dr. Schwartz also emphasized in a press conference that Clinton's main bypass graft, the LIMA graft, was "pristine" and at this point in time would likely remain open. He also added that Clinton had been very good and "toed the line" about adhering to diet, exercise and medical therapy. Clinton will most likely be released on Friday and back to work on Monday.

Reported by Burt Cohen, February 11, 2010