Bill Clinton Undergoes Heart Surgery

Bill Clinton Undergoes Heart Surgery
Bill Clinton
Olivier Douliery/ABACA

09/06/2004 AT 01:00 PM EDT

President Bill Clinton successfully underwent bypass surgery in New York City’s New York-Presbyterian Hospital on Monday.

In a press conference on Monday afternoon, doctors spoke about the former president's surgery as being a "relatively routine quadruple bypass surgery." They noted that in several of his heart vessels, blockage was 99 percent. Post-surgery, his heart is undamaged.

In a statement released by Sen. Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea, who were at the hospital during the operation, they called the last several days "quite an emotional roller coaster." They added, "The president's optimism and faith will carry him through the difficult weeks and months ahead."

Preparations for the surgery began at 6:45 a.m. and the former president exited the operating room at around noon on Monday. Dr. Craig Smith, the chairman of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, led the operation and approximately 15 medical personnel were in the room at the time of surgery.

Clinton, 58, will spend the night in the intensive care unit and be moved to the general care floor "in a day or so," said CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Clinton is expected to leave the hospital in four or five days and recuperation will take at least several weeks.

Before the surgery could occur, doctors had to thin Clinton’s blood. Two main methods are used for bypass surgery: one temporarily stops the heart, the other takes place on a beating heart. Doctors opted for the former.

Clinton checked himself into New York-Presbyterian Hospital Friday after experiencing chest pains and fatigue. He first went to Northern Westchester Hospital, where doctors examined him and later advised him to have the surgery.

The 42nd president has been enjoying good health lately but told CNN's Larry King in a Friday night phone interview on Larry King Live that he noticed during his jogs he "had some difficulty getting my distance up." He does not have a history of heart trouble, though a 2001 medical report indicated he had above-normal cholesterol and borderline high blood pressure. The former president had lost significant weight in the last year, which he credited to exercise and the South Beach diet.

In the Larry King Live interview, Clinton said he’s looking forward to seeing “what it’s like to run five miles again.” Displaying his characteristic sense of humor, he added, “The Republicans aren’t the only people who want four more years.”

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