Local Heart Specialist Says Clinton's Recovery Will Depend On His Future Choices

By Jeff Tang

(LOUISVILLE, September 3rd, 2004, 5:30 p.m.) -- Former President Bill Clinton was in a Manhattan hospital Friday after complaining of chest pains. He's scheduled to undergo quadruple bypass surgery next Tuesday. WAVE 3's Jeff Tang has more about the procedure the former president will undergo and the outlook for his future.

The procedures for President Clinton's quadruple bypass don't sound easy -- an open heart surgery that typically lasts three hours and involves moving veins and arteries from other parts of the body to the heart.

The good news is that Clinton should recover from the surgery with no major problems.

Dr. Mukul Chandra, the Co-Director of Chest Pain at University Hospital in Louisville, says "the risk is less than one percent, and I think he should be able to make it through with no complications."

Dr. Chandra says new procedures and technology have made bypass surgery a standard procedure.

As for what led to President Clinton's current situation, Dr. Chandra says the "significant blockage" in his arteries didn't happen overnight. "Someone like him could have had minor blockage from years gone by and they could have gotten inflamed."

Although Clinton was known to snack on fast food while in the Oval Office, the former president is a jogger with no other major health problems. But now he'll have to take extra precautions to protect his heart -- such as taking medication to lower his cholesterol, exercising for 30 minutes a day, five to seven times a week.

Bill Clinton's wife, New York Senator Hillary Clinton, will no doubt be by his side, taking an active role as always. "We have to really follow through on the recommendations the physicians have made," she told reporters Friday. "He's in excellent hands."

Once Clinton leaves those excellent hands, Dr. Chandra has one last piece of advice for the ex-president. "If he has a love for doughnuts, I would suggest stopping that. If he has a love of greasy foods, give it up."

Dr. Chandra says if all goes well, Clinton should be out of the hospital about five days after the surgery. He says bypass surgery is performed about half a million times a year in America.

Online Reporter: Jeff Tang

Online Producer: Michael Dever