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Bill Clinton Leaves Hospital After Heart Procedure


Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has been serving as special envoy for Haitian reconstruction following the January 12, 2010, earthquake on the island.

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Former U.S. President Bill Clinton left a New York hospital early today following a successful heart procedure to open a blocked artery in his heart that had caused him chest discomfort.

Clinton, 63, had quadruple heart bypass surgery in 2004 to free up four blocked arteries, and the latest incident comes after he has traveled twice to Haiti to help recovery efforts after a devastating earthquake there.

"President Clinton was released from New York Presbyterian/Columbia this morning in excellent health," Douglas Band, counselor to Clinton, said in a statement. "He looks forward in the days ahead to getting back to the work of his foundation, and to Haiti relief and recovery efforts."

Television footage show Clinton, who was president from 1993 until 2001, walking to his vehicle as he left the hospital and later arriving at home in the New York suburb of Chappaqua.

Two stents were placed in one of Clinton's coronary arteries after tests showed that one of the arteries operated on in 2004 needed to be reopened, Dr. Allan Schwartz, head of cardiology at Columbia, told reporters.

He said there was no indication Clinton had a heart attack or of any damage to his heart. Schwartz said Clinton could resume his "very active lifestyle" and return to work as soon as February 15. Allan gave the president an "excellent" prognosis.

Clinton's wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, arrived at the hospital last night, joining daughter Chelsea.

A senior administration official told Reuters that Secretary Clinton's departure to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, planned for today, was delayed to February 13 but that the delay would not affect her meetings in the two countries.

The White House said Clinton told President Barack Obama that he felt "absolutely great" after the procedure.

Having stents placed in heart arteries is a relatively quick and routine procedure among patients like Clinton who have suffered from heart disease.

Stents are tiny mesh tubes used to prop open heart arteries that have been cleared of blockages via angioplasty. They are now often coated with drugs to help prevent reclogging.

Just before his 2004 surgery, Clinton spoke on CNN's "Larry King Live," about his heart blockage: "Some of this is genetic and I may have done some damage in those years when I was too careless about what I ate...I've got a problem and I've got a chance to deal with it," Clinton said.