Bush Gets Stent for Blocked Artery

Former president George W. Bush had a stent placed in an artery to his heart to unblock it and restore blood flow, his spokesperson announced in a written statement earlier today.

According to the statement, the 67-year-old 43rd president underwent angioplasty this morning at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, a day after a routine physical examination uncovered a blocked artery. The procedure went well and President Bush was resting, eager to return to his normal schedule on Thursday, the statement said.

“Stents are used to keep open arteries that have been narrowed by atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries,” said Ramon Quesada, M.D., medical director of interventional cardiology and cardiac research at Baptist Cardiac & Vascular Institute and associate professor of medicine at FIU’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine.  “When we suspect a blocked artery, we perform a cardiac catheterization to determine the extent of the blockage and to plan our treatment options.”

In Bush’s case, the angiogram, or X-ray of the arteries done during the catheterization, indicated to his doctors that an artery in his heart was blocked and needed to be opened.  So, they placed a balloon with a stent into the affected artery through the catheter and restored blood flow to his heart.

“If we find during the catheterization a severe blockage that is causing the problem, we like to treat it immediately,” Dr. Quesada said.  “Stents can be placed during the catheterization, so we’re diagnosing and treating the problem in one procedure.”

Dr. Quesada says the decision to perform a diagnostic catheterization on patients usually follows chest pain or a stress test that shows an area of the heart is not getting enough oxygen, potentially from a blockage.

Once patients, like Bush, receive a stent, they will be given medication to keep their blood thin and be followed regularly by a cardiologist.

And while it may seem remarkable that Bush will return to his routine on Thursday, Dr. Quesada says it’s common.

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