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Latest News Last Updated: Feb 12, 2010 - 4:55:51 AM

Bill Clinton heart procedure successful: doctor

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Bill Clinton heart procedure successful: doctor


NEW YORK, February 12, 2010 (AFP) - Former US president Bill Clinton could resume work early next week after medics successfully cleared up a clogged artery following his hospitalization for chest pains, his doctor said. Clinton could be released as early as Friday and back at work on Monday, cardiologist Allan Schwartz told reporters, adding that he had not suffered a heart attack. Clinton, who underwent quadruple bypass surgery to free four blocked arteries in 2004, had been complaining of chest "discomfort," Schwartz said, so doctors on Thursday inserted two stents to free up a coronary artery. "The procedure went very smoothly," said Schwartz. "His prognosis is excellent." Clinton "did not have a heart attack or any damage to his heart," Schwartz said, adding that he could be "back in the office on Monday" and could "resume his very active lifestyle." The Democratic former president, 63, was already up and visiting with his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and their daughter Chelsea, the doctor added. Since leaving office in 2001 after two terms, Clinton has maintained a punishing routine and was most recently a coordinator for aid to victims of Haiti's earthquake. However, the complication treated on Thursday was "not a result of his lifestyle or his diet, both of which have been excellent," Schwartz said. The medical procedure, which is widely used, involves inserting tiny wire-like tubes known as stents into the artery to prevent plaque from building up and blocking the blood flow again. Hillary Clinton rushed from Washington to the Columbia Campus of New York Presbyterian Hospital to be with him. The State Department said she had delayed her departure on a planned trip to the Gulf by one day, to Saturday. President Barack Obama, a fellow Democrat, telephoned Clinton to wish him a speedy recovery and was told by the ex-president that he felt "absolutely great," a White House official said. George W. Bush, a Republican who replaced Clinton in the White House and is now working alongside him as a relief coordinator for Haiti, said he was "glad" to hear Clinton felt better. Another well-wisher was UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who thanked Clinton for his work in Haiti. Clinton spokesman Douglas Band said the former president emerged from the operation "in good spirits, and will continue to focus on the work of his foundation and Haiti's relief and long-term recovery efforts." While in the White House, Clinton famously indulged his appetites, including junk food, but in his post-presidential days he appeared to have been adhering to a stricter diet as well as a busy work schedule. In a 2005 interview just months after the bypass surgery, he told CNN that prior to going under the knife he realized "I was very close to having a serious heart attack. "I had big-time blockage. And I felt very grateful to be going under the surgery without serious damage to my heart so I thought I could make a recovery. Still it was kind of a mystical, interesting experience," he said. Friends describe him as unable to slow down. "He doesn't have an accelerator, but a switch, and that switch is on 23 hours a day, and that is one speed, full speed ahead," James Carville, Bill Clinton's former campaign manager, told CNN. Just last week Clinton paid his second visit to Haiti in a bid to get aid moving to the Caribbean nation struck by a 7.0-magnitude quake on January 12, and apologized for the slow arrival of relief supplies. Since leaving office Clinton has through his foundation also battled to raise AIDS awareness, pushed for tsunami recovery in Asia and pressed for more relief to Haiti. Clinton was sworn in on January 20, 1993 as the 42nd US president and the first Democrat to hold the highest office in 12 years. He won a second term in 1996. He remains hugely influential on the US political landscape, and is revered by Democrats for presiding over an economic boom time in the United States. But his scandalous affair with intern Monica Lewinsky during his presidency, and the impeachment proceedings that followed, tarnished his political legacy. Clinton fiercely supported his wife's bid to win the Democratic nomination in the 2008 presidential election, but eventually made peace with Obama just weeks before the vote.//AB/AB

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