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Clinton fights back after vital heart op on blocked artery

Former US President Bill Clinton, who had quadruple bypass surgery more than five years ago, was hospitalised to have a clogged heart artery opened after suffering discomfort in his chest.

Two stents were placed inside the artery as part of a medical procedure common for people with severe heart disease.

Clinton (63) was "in good spirits and will continue to focus on the work of his foundation and Haiti's relief and long-term recovery efforts," said an adviser, Douglas Band.

Terry McAuliffe, former Democratic National Committee chairman and a close friend of the Clintons, said Clinton participated in a conference call on earthquake relief as he was being wheeled into an operating room. He expected Clinton to leave the hospital today.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton travelled from Washington to New York to be with her husband, who underwent the procedure at New York Presbyterian Hospital, the same place where his bypass surgery was done in September 2004.

At that time, four of his arteries were blocked, some almost completely, and he was in danger of an imminent heart attack.


Cardiologist Allan Schwartz said the former President had been feeling discomfort in his chest for several days, and tests showed that one of the bypasses from the surgery was completely blocked.

Instead of trying to open the blocked bypass, doctors reopened one of his original blocked arteries and inserted the two stents. The procedure took about an hour, and Clinton was able to get up two hours later, Schwartz said.

There was no sign the former President had suffered a heart attack, and the new blockage was not a result of his diet, Schwartz said.

The doctor said Clinton could return to work on Monday. "The procedure went very smoothly," Schwartz said, describing Clinton's prognosis as excellent.

The need for another artery-opening procedure will not affect Clinton's long-term prognosis, said Dr William O'Neill, a cardiologist at the University of Miami.

"It doesn't really affect long-term survival. It's a quality-of-life thing. He'll have to have careful monitoring, regular stress tests."

Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, was also by his side at the hospital.

Clinton 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.