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Updated: February 12, 2010 20:44 IST

Bill Clinton leaves Manhattan hospital

AP
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In this February 5, 2010 file photo, UN special envoy for Haiti and former U.S. president Bill Clinton, waves to reporters after his arrival in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. AP.
In this February 5, 2010 file photo, UN special envoy for Haiti and former U.S. president Bill Clinton, waves to reporters after his arrival in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. AP.

NEW YORK Former President Bill Clinton has left the Manhattan hospital where he underwent a heart procedure, a close friend said on Friday.

Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, said on CBS’ “The Early Show” that Mr. Clinton had left New York Presbyterian Hospital. Mr. Clinton lives in Chappaqua, a hamlet about 35 miles (55 kilometers) north of New York City.

“He’s out of the hospital and in the car back en route to his home,” Mr. McAuliffe told the morning news programme.

“And if I know President Clinton, he’ll be on the phone ... calling people asking for more help for Haiti and where he can get pickup trucks so they can deliver food or generators. If I know Bill Clinton, he’ll be raring to go in about 35 minutes.”

Mr. Clinton could be back at work as soon as Monday, cardiologist Allan Schwartz, said previously.

Mr. Clinton, 63, had quadruple bypass surgery at the same hospital more than five years ago, and returned on Thursday to have a clogged heart artery opened after suffering discomfort in his chest.

Two stents resembling tiny mesh scaffolds were placed inside the artery as part of a medical procedure that is common for people with severe heart disease.

Dr. Schwartz said tests had 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 Mr. Clinton was able to get up two hours later, Dr. 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, Dr. Schwartz said.

“The procedure went very smoothly,” Dr. Schwartz said, describing Mr. Clinton’s prognosis as excellent.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, travelled from Washington to New York to be with her husband. She left the hospital about 11:30 p.m. (0430 GMT) without speaking to reporters.

Aides to Mrs. Clinton said she still planned to go ahead with a previously scheduled trip to the Persian Gulf. The trip was to begin on Friday afternoon, but now she is planning to leave on Saturday so that she does not have to rush back to Washington.

Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, was also with him at the hospital.

In an angioplasty, the procedure Mr. Clinton had on Thursday, doctors thread a tube through a blood vessel in the groin to a blocked artery and inflate a balloon to flatten the clog. Often, one or more stents are used to prop the artery open.

The angioplasty is usually done with the patient awake but sedated. It’s one of the most common medical procedures done worldwide. More than a million angioplasties are done in the United States each year, most involving stents.

“It’s not unexpected” for Mr. Clinton to need another procedure years after his bypass, said Clyde Yancy, cardiologist at Baylor University Medical Centre in Dallas and president of the American Heart Association.

The sections of blood vessels used to create detours around the original blockages tend to develop clogs five to 10 years after a bypass, Dr. Yancy 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.

Mr. McAuliffe said Mr. Clinton participated in a conference call on earthquake relief as he was being wheeled into an operating room.

Mr. Clinton’s reputation as an unhealthy eater was sealed in 1992, when the newly minted presidential candidate took reporters on jogs to McDonald’s. He was famously spoofed on “Saturday Night Live” as a gluttonous McDonald’s customer.

Friends and family say Mr. Clinton changed his eating habits for the better after his bypass surgery.

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