At the recommendation of his doctors, former President George W. Bush had a stent placed in his artery to open a blockage and keep blood flowing to his heart.
During a typical procedure, surgeons guide a narrow tube through a blood vessel in the groin area, up to the heart. A small balloon is inflated to clear the artery and make room for the stent.
"That is where the stent comes in like a scaffold; it's like a metal mesh," said Dr. Annapoorna Kini of Mount Sinai Medical Center.
Bush has no history of heart trouble. A spokesperson for the 67-year-old says doctors in Dallas discovered the blockage during an annual physical. Years of cholesterol build up usually clog arteries. Most patients have sudden symptoms.
"Unexplained discomfort of pressure across the chest, tightness of the jaw, unexplained shortness of breath when trying to exercise or exert," said Dr. John McPherson of Vanderbilt University.
In less serious cases, doctors may try to treat the blockage with medication. It's estimated about half a million people have surgery for stents every year in the U.S.
"They will need to take aspirin every day or cholesterol blood pressure dugs and look at for any future symptoms," McPherson said.
Bush was described as being "in high spirits" and is expected to be discharged from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Wednesday. He's encouraging everyone to get regular checkups with their doctor.
Doctors say the former president should be able to resume his normal schedule the day after he leaves the hospital.
PO Box 4508