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Former President Bill Clinton to Undergo Heart Bypass Surgery - 2004-09-03

Former President Bill Clinton has checked into a New York City hospital after complaining of chest pains, and is expected to undergo heart surgery soon.

According to a statement released by Mr. Clinton's office in New York, the former president experienced mild chest pain and shortness of breath, and checked into a hospital in upstate New York for testing on Thursday. Initial results were normal, says his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"He spent the night at home and we talked through the day, and he said he felt fine and not to worry and he'd see me at the [New York State] fair," she said. "But his doctors asked him to come back early this morning for some additional tests, and as a result of those additional tests at Westchester Medical Center, they did advise him to have bypass surgery and to do it as soon as he could."

Dr. Frank Dorsa is a cardiologist at Westchester Medical Center, where the tests were done. "Apparently he was found to have multiple blockages in all three arteries," said Dr. Dorsa. "I'm not familiar with whether or not he had any reduction in his heart muscle function. But in many cases when there are multiple blockages in all three major arteries in their distributions, often times the best procedure is to do a bypass surgery."

The exact timing of the surgery is unknown. According to some reports, the operation could take place as early as Saturday.

According to published results of his recent physicals, Mr. Clinton has been in relatively good health. He has been treated for high cholesterol in the past. Earlier this year, he announced he had begun a diet and exercise regimen, and he has appeared slim and fit in public appearances.

Although Dr. Dorsa was not personally involved in Mr. Clinton's examination, he says if all goes as planned, Mr. Clinton could have a short recovery period. "Nowadays, patients are sent home anywhere between three to five days after surgery, provided they haven't had any complications," he explained.

Dr. Dorsa says about 250,000 heart bypass surgeries are performed each year in the United States. Mr. Clinton's office says Mrs. Clinton and daughter Chelsea will be with the former president in New York City.