Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bill Clinton Hospitalized with Chest Discomfort; Stent Inserted in Coronary Arteries

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton experienced chest discomfort on Thursday and checked himself into a hospital, where he had stents inserted into one of his coronary arteries. Clinton, who is 63, underwent a quadruple bypass surgery six years ago to fix blocked arteries.

His cardiologist said that one of the coronary grafts he had at that time had become completely blocked, which is not uncommon.

The former president was taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, the same hospital that performed the bypass operation in 2004. The procedure was said to have gone smoothly, and Clinton is reportedly in good spirits and resting comfortably.

So what is coronary artery stenting? It's a relatively common procedure in which a tiny, uninflated balloon on the end of a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel and snaked through to the site of a buildup of plaque. Once in place the balloon is inflated to press the plaque up against the artery wall and widen the opening (a procedure known as a balloon angioplasty). The same balloon is then used to put in place a stent, a type of metal mesh screen that holds the artery open.

Clinton's doctor explains the president's procedure and his health in this video.

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