DALLAS (Reuters) – Former U.S. President George W. Bush underwent successful surgery at a Dallas hospital on Tuesday to place a stent in a blocked heart artery.
Doctors discovered the blockage on Monday during Bush’s annual physical at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, according to a statement from spokesman Freddy Ford. They recommended a stent to open the blockage, and Bush, 67, underwent surgery on Tuesday morning at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, the statement said.
The former president was “in high spirits, eager to return home tomorrow and resume his normal schedule on Thursday,” Ford said.
Bush was known as a fitness enthusiast during his two terms in the White House, from 2001 to 2009, and liked to run before knee pain led him to do more bicycling.
Since leaving the White House, Bush has participated three times in the 100-kilometer (62-mile) Warrior 100K bike ride along with 20 wounded military veterans. He has also taken up painting, signing works “43” for being the 43rd U.S. president.
As president, Bush introduced the Adult Fitness Challenge and the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award. The website AskTheTrainer.com named him the most physically fit president in U.S. history.
“I love exercise,” Bush said in a video for Physical Fitness Month in 2007. “The message to all Americans is to find time in your schedule to walk, swim, bike, take care of yourself.”
Several factors besides fitness influence a person’s risk of heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, stress and family history, according to the American Heart Association.
A stent is a wire mesh coil used to prop open arteries after blockages have been cleared. Typically, the procedure involves inserting a narrow, balloon-tipped tube called a catheter through a puncture in the arm or thigh and snaking it through the vascular system and into the heart. Newer stents are usually infused with medicine that prevents scar tissue from forming and re-blocking the artery.
The procedure takes about 45 minutes to an hour, and most patients go home six to eight hours after a simple case, said Dr. Annapoorna Kini, director of the cardiac catheterization laboratory at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. She was not involved in treating Bush.
The procedure is performed more than 1 million times a year in the United States, according to a 2012 article in JAMA Internal Medicine.
LIFE AFTER WHITE HOUSE
Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush, served as president from 1989 to 1993. Now 89, the elder Bush spent seven weeks in a Houston hospital for bronchitis and related ailments before his release on January 14. He often makes public appearances in a wheelchair.
The younger Bush’s presidency was shaped by the attacks of September 11, 2001. He left office in January 2009 with low public approval ratings due to the U.S. financial crisis that erupted near the end of his second term and the unpopular war in Iraq.
But a Gallup poll in June showed 49 percent of respondents viewed him favorably versus 46 percent unfavorably – the first time since 2005 that opinions of him were more positive than negative.
Bush was in Africa last month when he joined his successor Barack Obama in Tanzania at a ceremony marking the 15th anniversary of an al Qaeda attack on the U.S. Embassy there that killed 10 Tanzanians and injured 85 Americans and Tanzanians.
Bush had maintained a lower profile during Obama’s first term, saying a former president should avoid creating distractions for his successor.
He returned to the spotlight in April, when Obama and three surviving former presidents dedicated Bush’s presidential library in a ceremony in Dallas.