Bill Clinton Released From Hospital, Prognosis 'Excellent'

Former president leaves hospital less than 24 hours after stent procedure.

February 11, 2010, 4:36 PM

Feb. 12, 2010 — -- Former president Bill Clinton left a New York hospital this morning, less than 24 hours after he was admitted and had two stents inserted into one of his coronary arteries.

Clinton, 63, was buoyed by an "excellent" prognosis and a flood of get well wishes, including from President Obama and the two former president Bushes.

His office issued a statement this morning saying that Clinton was released from New York City's Columbia 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," the statement said.

The former president praised the surgeons who installed the two stents in his coronary artery, Dr. Mark Apfelbaum and Dr. Michael Collins.

"President Clinton would also like to thank the many people who extended their best wishes to him for a quick recovery," the statement said.

Clinton, who had a quadruple heart bypass operation in 2004, was taken to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital Thursday afternoon after complaining of brief episodes of chest discomfort over the past few days, even while at rest.

His cardiologist, Dr. Allen Schwartz, chief of cardiology at New York City's Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, performed an angiography, finding no evidence of a heart attack or damage to Clinton's heart.

Pictures taken of Clinton's arteries and of bypass grafts he received four years ago revealed that one of the grafts was blocked. Because of that problem, doctors placed two stents in his coronary artery. A stent is a wire mesh tube used to prop open an artery.

The insertion of two stents "makes him less susceptible to future heart attacks," Schwartz said. "His prognosis is excellent."

The blockage was typical of the "natural history" of bypass treatment, which has a 10 to 20 percent failure rate five years after the surgery, according to Schwartz.

"This was not a result of his lifestyle or diet, which have been excellent," he said, adding that Clinton is "in excellent condition, as evidenced both by what he does and objective testing."

The former president's counselor, Douglas Band, released a statement Thursday saying that Clinton, currently the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, is in "good spirits and will continue to focus on the work of his foundation and Haiti's relief and long-term recovery efforts."

Clinton's doctor described the ex-president as "up and walking around and visiting with his family," adding that the former president probably will be able to go back to work on Monday.

"The goal of the treatment ... is for President Clinton to resume his very active lifestyle," he said.

ABC News' chief political correspondent George Stephanopoulos, who once worked for Clinton in the White House, noted Clinton's non-stop work ethic and said the former president has worked "20 hours a day for the last 20 years."

Clinton's daughter Chelsea and his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, both were by the former president's bed, according to Schwartz.

Sources told ABC News that Secretary Clinton was "very concerned when told about the president, given his heart history" and that it made everyone "very nervous."

Her husband had his 2004 bypass operation at the same hospital.

Secretary Clinton's planned departure Friday for a trip to Qatar and Saudi Arabia has been delayed, a U.S official told ABC News.

Bill Clinton Had Quadruple Bypass in 2004

An official told ABC News that Clinton's ailment seemed more like "discomfort ... something wasn't right" rather than a health "crisis."

A friend of the former president's said that he had been suffering from a cold and had been worn out from his trip to Haiti on Feb. 5. Another source who was with Clinton in Haiti told ABC News that he "looked really tired, exhausted and pale ... like he didn't sleep at all" during the Haiti trip.

It was Clinton's second trip to Haiti since the January earthquake, and as the United Nations special envoy for Haiti he met with Haitian leaders and helped coordinate international quake assistance.

Clinton, known for having a weakness for fast food during his years in the White House, underwent his complicated bypass procedure on Sept. 6, 2004, after an angiogram showed that his heart had multiple lesions. Clinton had taken himself to a hospital in Westchester, N.Y., a few days earlier after experiencing mild chest pain and shortness of breath.

The then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., was at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, N.Y., when she learned of her husband's condition and immediately rushed to his side.

"His doctors asked him to come back early this morning for some additional tests, and as a result of those additional tests … they did advise him to have bypass surgery and to do it as soon as he could," Hillary Clinton said. "He's in excellent hands and he's at one of the best hospitals in the world."

Clinton Saw 'Visions of Death' During First Surgery

In Clinton's first interview after his surgery, he told ABC's Diane Sawyer that he had visions that "clearly connoted death" while he was on the operating table.

"I saw like dark masks crushing, like death masks being crushed, in series, and then I'd see these great circles of light and then like Hillary's picture or Chelsea's face would appear on the light, and then they'd fly off into the dark," he told Sawyer.

Clinton added, "I'll never get tired of living. But I think it's a great waste of time to sit around in morbid fear of a fate that we all have to share."

In spring 2005, Clinton told ABC News that even after two surgeries, he "feels great."

"The pain is gone," said Clinton. "I can now pretty well do whatever I need to do."

Clinton underwent an additional surgery in March 2005 to remove scar tissue that had developed after the quadruple bypass surgery.

During a humanitarian trip to Liberia In 2008, Clinton said his "heart thing" had helped to "really change me."

"I think surviving that heart thing and then doing this work and being so inspired by people like this has really changed me, in a way," he told ABC News.

ABC News' Martha Raddatz and Kate Snow contributed to this report