Former US President George W Bush undergoes heart surgery

Doctors discovered the 67-year-old had cholesterol build-up causing a blockage in an artery

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The Independent US

Former US President George W Bush has undergone heart surgery in Dallas, Texas, after doctors discovered a blockage in an artery.

Doctors had to insert a “stent” into the blood vessel, a mesh scaffold designed to prop open arteries typically clogged by years of cholesterol build-up.

The procedure was a success and Freddy Ford, spokesman for the Republican, said Mr Bush was “in high spirits, eager to return home tomorrow and resume his normal schedule on Thursday”.

The blockage was found during the 67-year-old’s annual physical at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, and he will stay overnight at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital where the surgery took place.

Mr Bush was known as an avid fitness enthusiast during his two terms in the White House, when he introduced the Adult Fitness Challenge and the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award, and liked to run before knee pain led him to do more bicycling.

Since leaving the White House, he has participated three times in the 100km (62-mile) Warrior 100K bike ride along with 20 wounded military veterans.

Mr Bush maintained a lower profile during Obama's first term, saying a former president should avoid creating distractions for his successor.

And he has recommended everyone get regular health check-ups, with the message: “Take care of yourself.”

About half a million people have stents inserted in the US every year, generally involving an overnight stay in the hospital.

Doctors usually guide a narrow tube through a blood vessel near the groin up to the heart, inflate a tiny balloon to flatten the blockage and insert the stent.

GPs will often recommend first trying medication to treat a clogged artery. More severe blockages, particularly in several arteries, may require bypass surgery. Arteries can reclog, so patients are often put on heart-friendly diets or medication.