After heart procedure, former president Bill Clinton released from hospital

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited former president Bill Clinton at New York Presbyterian Hospital on Thursday night.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited former president Bill Clinton at New York Presbyterian Hospital on Thursday night. (David Martin/associated Press)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 12, 2010; 8:27 AM

Former president Bill Clinton was released Friday morning from a New York hospital, where he stayed overnight after doctors inserted two stents into a clogged coronary artery after he complained of chest pains. The one-hour procedure went smoothly, according to his cardiologist.

Clinton, 63, was released from New York Presbyterian Hospital's campus at Columbia University early Friday morning "in excellent health" and will soon return to his work on Haiti's relief and long-term recovery, his office said.

Clinton underwent the procedure at the same hospital where he underwent quadruple heart bypass surgery in 2004. The former president had recurring episodes of chest pain over the past several days, a Clinton aide said, and he could have suffered a heart attack if the condition had gone untreated.

Clinton's cardiologist, Alan Schwartz, said the former president would recover fully and resume his "very active lifestyle." Within two hours of the operation, Clinton was walking around his hospital room, and Schwartz said he could return Monday to his work leading the humanitarian response to the Haiti earthquake.

"This was not a result of either his lifestyle or his diet, which have been excellent," Schwartz told reporters from the hospital steps Thursday night. "This is part of the natural history. Just as illnesses have natural histories, treatments have natural histories."

Clinton's associates said he has been working at a grueling pace since the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, but they said his demanding schedule did not contribute to his heart problems. Clinton, the United Nations special envoy to Haiti, is overseeing the U.S. response with former president George W. Bush. Clinton has twice shuttled between his New York home and Port-au-Prince in recent weeks.

Clinton was working on issues related to Haiti on Thursday morning when he felt chest pains, associates said. As he was being wheeled into the operating room, they said, Clinton was on a conference call about Haiti; aides had to take his cellphone.

"President 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," Douglas Band, a longtime Clinton aide, said in a statement.

Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, joined him at the hospital, an aide said. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is scheduled to leave Saturday for Qatar and Saudi Arabia, flew to New York late Thursday to join her family.

President Obama called Clinton about 7 p.m. Thursday and wished him "a speedy recovery," a White House aide said. Clinton told Obama he was feeling "absolutely great," the aide said, and Obama replied that "the efforts in Haiti were too important for him to be laid up for too long" and hoped he'll be "ready to get back to work as soon as possible."

David Sherzer, a spokesman for Bush, said the 43rd president called Chelsea Clinton on Thursday and "looks forward to continuing to work with his friend on Haiti relief and rebuilding."

Paul Farmer, deputy United Nations envoy to Haiti, said Clinton has been working "pretty nonstop" since the earthquake.

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