AUSTIN -- Former President George W. Bush is recovering after surgery Tuesday morning to put a stent in his heart. Doctors discovered a blockage in an artery Monday during the 67-year-old's annual checkup. The surgery took place at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. A spokesman says Bush experienced no complications during surgery and is eager to return home.
Over the years heart stent procedures have become fairly routine. They're now minimally invasive but provide a significant advantage to anyone suffering from coronary artery disease.
News of President Bush's heart stent procedure spread quickly at St. David's North Austin Medical Center.
"Whenever you hear about a stent in somebody that used to lead our nation it definitely causes you to take a step back and think about it," said Joseph Imsais, M.D. of cardiology.
Heart disease causes blood vessels to narrow or become clogged, limiting blood flow.
"When there's a narrowing in the artery, that can lead to chest pressure and shortness of breath," said Imsais. "Down the line that can lead to heart muscle damage or even heart attacks."
Doctors insert a stent, or small wire tube, to prop open the artery where the the blockage occurs.
"We inflate a balloon temporarily to open up that artery," said Imsais. "We remove a balloon, and we place a permanent metal stent to kind of prop that artery open and to keep it open and prevent further problems in the future."
President Bush is an avid runner. Although now 67, his 2006 medical exam revealed only a low risk for coronary artery disease.
"The bottom line is once we're over the age of 50, both men and women have a real risk of that," said Imsais.
"Stents these days are almost preventative maintenance for people," said Sherry Neyman, M.D., of obstetrics and gynecology.
Neyman trained at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas where Bush underwent his physical that revealed the blockage.
"It shows that even for someone who is very physically fit heart disease is multi-factorial," she said. "Perhaps there are family issues, so it's important to look for the silent issues that contribute to heart disease. I wish him well, and I'm glad they found things early before he had a heart attack or something related to a clogged artery or something."
Doctors say the heart stent procedure only takes about an hour and the risks are very low. Recently KVUE reported on a new, dissolving stent. A clinical trial is currently taking place in Austin and across the country to test it. Click here for more information.