Bill Clinton hospitalized with chest pains, will face bypass surgery

Friday, September 3rd 2004, 11:27 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Former President Bill Clinton checked into a Manhattan hospital Friday with chest pains and will soon undergo bypass surgery, his office announced.

An angiogram given to Clinton, who had been expected to campaign for Sen. John Kerry in his run for the White House, revealed ``significant blockage,'' said a Democratic official. It did not appear that Clinton suffered a heart attack, said the official, who had discussed the condition with the former president's staff and spoke on condition of anonymity.

There was also no official word on when the surgery would take place. A source speaking on condition of anonymity said it was not likely to take place Friday, but Sen. Hillary Clinton said her husband was advised ``to do it as soon as he could.''

Clinton, 58, was admitted to New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia after undergoing initial testing near his suburban home, his office said. He canceled a two-day joint trip with his wife across upstate New York.

Sen. Clinton and their daughter, Chelsea, were to be with the former president in the city, the statement said.

The former first lady made a brief appearance Friday at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, after which she noted that her husband was hospitalized and would need heart surgery, and apologized for leaving right away. ``He's in excellent hands,'' she said.

Dozens of reporters and camera crews were assembled outside the city hospital, which is north of Clinton's Harlem office. Hospital officials had no immediate comment.

In Little Rock, Ark., Clinton's mother-in-law, Dorothy Rodham, said Clinton had called her to tell her about the situation.

``He sounded wonderful as usual and very upbeat, as he always is,'' she said. ``I just told him how much I love him.''

She said she didn't know if he was in the hospital when he called.

Clinton called his step-father, Dick Kelley, at his Hot Springs, Ark., home around 11 a.m. central time, Kelley said.

``He's very gung-ho and optimistic about what's going to happen. I don't know if he was at the hospital. He just wanted me to know before the press, but the press knew before I did,'' Kelley said.

Clinton had a cancerous growth removed from his back shortly after leaving office in early 2001. It turned out to be basal cell carcinoma, the most treatable form of skin cancer. In 1996, he had had a precancerous lesion removed from his nose and a year before that had a benign cyst taken off his chest.

Other than that, Clinton has had the normal health problems that often accompany aging _ periods of slightly elevated cholesterol and hearing loss _ and an appetite for junk food. In 1997, he was fitted with hearing aids. He has also suffered from allergies.

On Thursday, Clinton went to Northern Westchester Hospital after suffering ``mild chest pain'' and shortness of breath, his office said in a statement. He spent the night at his Chappaqua home, but checked into the Manhattan hospital after further tests Friday revealed the medical problem.

``He's going to be fine,'' Kerry told a campaign rally in Newark, Ohio.

``But every single one of us wants to extend to him our best wishes, our prayers and our thoughts and I want you all to let a cheer out and clap that he can hear all the way to New York,'' Kerry said to cheers.

At a campaign stop in Wisconsin, President Bush also wished Clinton ``best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery.'' ``He's in our thoughts and prayers,'' Bush said.

In June, a spokesman characterized the ex-president as ``doing very well'' health-wise. The 42nd president has struggled with a weight problem, but had recently seemed much leaner at public appearances.

During his two terms as president, Clinton was known for his love of fast food. But in January of this year, Clinton said he had gone on ``The South Beach Diet'' and starting a workout regimen.

Clinton has led an active lifestyle since leaving office. Most recently, he was on the road plugging his memoirs, ``My Life.''