Former President George W. Bush encourages regular check-ups after heart scare

A Kelsey-Seybold interventional cardiologist says if left untreated, that blockage could lead to a heart attack

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor
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DALLAS - Former President George W. Bush, or 43, as friends and family often refer to him, is likely one of the country's fittest presidents known for his active lifestyle.

Fortunately, the 67-year-old is also proactive about his check ups which revealed a clogged artery Monday.

The discovery is often made in people who are experiencing chest pain, an acute heart attack or most likely in the case of Bush 43, an abnormal stress test.

Doctors at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas decided the best course of action was to implant a stent.

Kelsey-Seybold interventional cardiologist Dr. Jonathan Aliota explained, "Our arteries that run along the outside of the heart surface, we call these the epicardial arteries. It's these arteries that we're worried about when we talk about coronary blockage."

Dr. Aliota said if left untreated, that blockage could lead to a heart attack.

He added, "If (doctors) discovered a blocked artery using a special camera, then you can pass a wire and then balloon and stent this artery to treat it and open that blockage up."

The stent procedure is fairly common, low risk with a short recovery time.

Dr. Aliota said, "The long term prognosis of stents are excellent especially given appropriate medical therapy and controlling your other risk factors including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diet and making sure to exercise regularly."

What's really amazing is that this entire procedure is done within a tube about the size of a pen refill. That stent can keep the artery opened indefinitely and about a million of these procedures are done every year in the U.S.

In a statement released Tuesday morning, a Bush spokesman said, "President Bush is in high spirits, eager to return home tomorrow and resume his normal schedule on Thursday. He is grateful to the skilled medical professionals who have cared for him. He thanks his family, friends, and fellow citizens for their prayers and well wishes. And he encourages us all to get our regular check-ups."

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