Rehab and Recovery for Former President Bill Clinton

After heart surgery, what's in store for Clinton's health?

ByABC News
February 12, 2010, 10:17 AM

Feb. 13, 2010— -- After Thursday's heart surgery, Bill Clinton is out of the hospital and back on his feet, but cardiologists say his battle with heart disease is far from over.

"This is not a problem just in that one area. You have to treat the whole person to reduce the risk," says Dr. Sharonne Hayes, director of the Mayo Clinic Women's Heart Clinic, adding that if whatever led to blockages in two of Clinton's arteries isn't addressed, it's "quite likely" that he'll have more blockages in the next couple of years.

Released in "excellent health" Friday morning from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital after stent surgery, the former president will be back to the work of his foundation in the next couple of days, Clinton spokesman Douglas Band said in a statement.

Considering Clinton's notoriously demanding schedule, will a return to work mean there will be enough time for the cardiac rehab strongly advised for patients who have repeat cardiac events like this?

In September 2004, Clinton underwent quadruple coronary bypass surgery. He was notorious for his fondness of fast food and donuts -- and the high cholesterol, 223, to match. After the surgery, he lost weight and improved his diet.

But after Thursday's surgery, cardiologists say Clinton's heart disease may not have been sufficiently managed.

"The simple fact that someone has a development of new blockages despite treatment…would tell me that I have a patient that is still at risk," says Hayes. "[It] means we're not doing enough -- something's got to change."

Hayes says that after a repeat event like this, it's necessary to "relook at what we need to do" to lower the risk of heart trouble -- diet, physical activity levels, medications, and any other risk factors all have to be re-examined to see what may have led to the new blockages.