Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to have bypass surgery at a New York hospital after suffering mild chest pain and shortness of breath, his office said today in a statement.
Clinton has been admitted to New York Presbyterian Hospital and is "scheduled to have bypass surgery," the statement said, although it did not specify a time.
The former president reported symptoms Thursday, but initial testing at Northern Westchester Hospital found normal results. Clinton slept at his home in Chappaqua, N.Y., last night, but further testing Friday morning at Westchester Medical Center led doctors to recommend bypass surgery.
His wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), was in Syracuse at the state fair today where she told a gathering that she was rushing back to New York City to be with him. She said doctors, after reevaluating his condition this morning, told him to have the bypass surgery "as soon as he could."
Sen. Clinton and their daughter, Chelsea, "will be with the president in New York City," the former president's office said.
President Bush, campaigning in West Allis, Wis., told supporters this afternoon that Clinton "is in our thoughts and prayers" and he wished the former president a "swift and speedy recovery." He later called Clinton from his plane, according to White House spokesman Scott McClellan.
Democratic nominee, Sen. John F. Kerry, told a campaign rally in Newark, Ohio, that Clinton had been hospitalized. "Every single one of us wants to extend to him our best wishes and thoughts," Kerry said, "and I want you to let a cheer out that he can hear all the way to New York."
Clinton is known for his fondness for fast food, and he has long struggled to keep his weight under control. But he did not have a history of heart or circulatory trouble as president.
In a 1999 checkup, doctors reported that he had a total cholesterol level of 196, with an HDL level of 46 and an LDL of 134. The numbers were considered normal except for the LDL, which exceeded the 130 recommendation. Clinton had a stress test at the time and the supervising doctor reported that "his performance was outstanding for a man of 53 years of age."
Clinton, 58, recently lost weight while following the South Beach diet.
ABC and CBS television reported that Clinton's surgery would be a quadruple heart bypass. The procedure could happen as early as Saturday.
Clinton's mother-in-law, Dorothy Rodham, told the Associated Press in Little Rock, Ark., that Clinton had called her. "He sounded wonderful as usual and very upbeat, as he always is," she said. "I just told him how much I love him."
Staff writer Lois Romano contributed to this story.