Clinton Speaks After Surgery

"I have to keep working, its what I should do, it's what my life is for," said Clinton after op.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Former President Bill Clinton offers a smile and a wave as he leaves the hospital following a heart procedure.

    Former President Bill Clinton was recovering at his suburban home with his wife after leaving a Manhattan hospital where he underwent a heart procedure.

    Looking sharp and healthy in a suit, Clinton left the hospital at around 7 a.m. this morning, hopping into a black SUV with a smile and a wave for onlookers. 

    Bill Clinton Speaks After Heart Procedure

    [NY] Bill Clinton Speaks After Heart Procedure
    Bill Clinton is in good spirits as he addresses reporters outside of his Chappaqua, N.Y. home.

    Three black SUVs with tinted windows arrived in Chappaqua less than an hour later and pulled through the high gates at the house in the Westchester County hamlet about 35 miles north of New York City. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is there with him, said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

    Outside of his Chappaqua home, Clinton later addressed reporters and said he felt "fine."

    "Actually I'm doing very well, i feel very blessed," said Clinton, who also said he did about three hours of work on Haiti after leaving the hospital.

    "I have to keep working, its what I should do, it's what my life is for, I was given a good mind, a strong body and you know I've had a wonderful life, it'd be wrong for me not to work."

    He admitted that his hectic schedule had probably taken a toll.

    "I tell you what, I was quite tired over Christmas, and afterward, but from the time of the Haiti earthquake, which was a month ago today, i been working alot, without sleeping much," said the former president.
        
    Clinton adviser Douglas Band said in a statement that Clinton left New York Presbyterian Hospital "in excellent health.''
        
    "He looks forward in the days ahead to getting back to the work of his Foundation, and to Haiti relief and recovery efforts,'' it said.

    Clinton, who had quadruple bypass surgery in 2004, was taken into New York Presbyterian-Columbia University Medical Center late Thursday afternoon and remained at the Washington Heights hospital overnight. By 7 a.m. Friday, Clinton was back in the car en route to his Chappaqua home, but close friends -- and even his doctor -- say he'll be back in action in no time.

    Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman and a close friend of the Clintons, told CBS' "The Early Show'' that he expects Clinton will get back to work quickly.
        
    "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,'' McAuliffe said.
        
    Clinton, 63, could be back at work as soon as Monday, cardiologist Allan Schwartz said previously.
        
    A couple of hours after Clinton went home, C.J. Williams, a second-grader from New Fairfield, Conn., arrived at the cul-de-sac carrying a get well card and a red heart-shaped box filled with Skittles.
        
    The sandy-haired boy said he wrote on the card, "Happy Valentine's Day. I hope you feel better and here's a little heart to make your big heart feel better.'' An officer told C.J. and his father that they'd have to mail the items.

    Clinton felt chest pains, went to the hospital and had two stents -- a metal mesh tube used to prop open a partially blocked artery -- implanted on Thursday -- a scare that prompted a trip to Manhattan from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her daughter.

    "President Bill Clinton was admitted to the Columbia Campus of New York Presbyterian Hospital after feeling discomfort in his chest," said Clinton's counselor Douglas Band in a statement. "Following a visit to his cardiologist, he underwent a procedure to place two stents in one of his coronary arteries."

    The doctors who opened a blocked artery in his chest say the former president will be able to resume his active lifestyle, starting with his departure from the hospital the day after his procedure.

    Band pointed out that the president was in "good spirits, and will continue to focus on the work of his Foundation and Haiti's relief and long-term recovery efforts."

    President Clinton, who lives in Chappaqua, Westchester County, Dr. Allan Schwartz, called the head of cardiology at Presbyterian two days ago, and said he was having repeated chest discomfort. He was supposed to go the hospital yesterday, but postponed it because of the snow, and went in today instead.

    It was originally considered a routine visit, but during the course of the check-up by cardiologists it was decided Clinton would undergo the procedure, Schwartz said in a press conference. The procedure took about an hour and Clinton was able to get up two hours later, Schwartz said.

    Schwartz said there was no evidence Clinton had experienced a heart attack, and his cholesterol levels were low.

    "His prognosis is excellent," said Schwartz, who was named one of America's top doctors in 2009. "I told him he could be back in the office on Monday."

    The doctor said that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton were by his side in the hospital, and the former president was able to walk around.

    Hillary left the hospital at about 11:30 p.m. without speaking to reporters. Aides to the Secretary of State said she still planned to go ahead with a previously scheduled trip to the Persian Gulf. The trip was to begin Friday afternoon,, but now she plans to leave Saturday so that she does not have to rush back to Washington.

    Bill Clinton, 63, successfully underwent emergency heart bypass surgery Sept  6, 2004. Four major blood vessels that supply oxygen to Clinton's heart were found blocked, some by as much as 90 percent, doctors at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center said at the time.

    Without the surgery, they added, he probably would have had a major heart attack in the near future.

    President Obama spoke to Clinton shortly before 7 p.m., Thursday and wished him a speedy recovery, a White House official said. Obama said that the efforts in Haiti were too important for him to be laid up for too long and hopes he'll be ready to get back to work as soon as possible. President Clinton said he was feeling "absolutely great."

    Reached in Houston, Former President George H. W. Bush, a partner with Clinton in much of his humanitarian work around the world, issued the following statement:

    "We have been in touch with President Clinton's staff and, of course, Barbara and I wish him a speedy and full recovery."

    In an angioplasty, the procedure 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 Clinton to need another procedure years after his bypass, said Dr. Clyde Yancy, cardiologist at Baylor University Medical Center 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, 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.
        
    Terry McAuliffe, former Democratic National Committee chairman and a close friend of the Clintons, said Clinton participated in a conference call on earthquake relief as he was being wheeled into an operating room.
        
    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 Clinton changed his eating habits for the better after his bypass surgery.