NEW YORK — Former President Bill Clinton had two stents inserted in one of his heart arteries after being hospitalized with chest pains, an adviser said Thursday. Clinton, 63, "is in good spirits and will continue to focus on the work of his foundation and Haiti's relief and long-term recovery efforts," said adviser Douglas Band.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton left Washington and headed to New York to be with her husband, who underwent the procedure at New York Presbyterian Hospital.
Stents are tiny mesh scaffolds used to prop open an artery after it is unclogged in an angioplasty procedure. Doctors thread a tube through a blood vessel in the groin to a blocked artery, inflate a balloon to flatten the clog, and slide the stent into place.
That is a different treatment from what Clinton had in 2004, when clogged arteries first landed him in the hospital. He underwent quadruple bypass surgery because of four blocked arteries, some of which had squeezed almost completely shut.
With bypass or angioplasty, patients often need another procedure years down the road because arteries often reclog.
"It's not unexpected" for Clinton to need another procedure now, said Dr. Clyde Yancy, cardiologist at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas and president of the American Heart Association.
The sections of arteries and veins used to create detours around the original blockages tend to develop clogs five to 10 years after a bypass, he explained. New blockages also can develop in new areas.
"This kind of disease is progressive. It's not a one-time event, so it really points out the need for constant surveillance" and treating risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, he said.
The former president has been working in recent weeks to help relief efforts in Haiti. Since leaving office, he has maintained a busy schedule working on humanitarian projects through his foundation.