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Bill Clinton leaves hospital after surgery

Former US president Bill Clinton left hospital early Friday after doctors successfully cleared up a clogged artery following his hospitalization for chest pains, an aide said.

world Updated: Feb 12, 2010 19:08 IST

Former US president Bill Clinton left hospital early Friday after doctors successfully cleared up a clogged artery following his hospitalization for chest pains, an aide said.

Douglas Band said Clinton was released from New York Presbyterian Hospital "in excellent health" and was resting at home in Chappaqua, New York.

The 63-year-old Clinton could be back at work on Monday and "resume his very active lifestyle," his cardiologist Allan Schwartz told reporters, adding that he had not suffered a heart attack.

Clinton, who underwent quadruple bypass surgery to free four blocked arteries in 2004, had been complaining of chest "discomfort," Schwartz said, so doctors inserted two stents to free up a coronary artery on Thursday.

"The procedure went very smoothly," said Schwartz. "His prognosis is excellent."

Within hours of the procedure, the Democratic stalwart was already up and visiting with his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and their daughter Chelsea, the doctor added.

Since leaving office in January 2001 after two terms, Clinton has dropped weight, maintained a punishing routine and was most recently coordinating aid to victims of Haiti's earthquake.

Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, who co-chaired Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign, said the ex-president took part in a conference call on earthquake relief to Haiti just as he was being wheeled into the operating room.

"He would have kept the phone on Haiti and talked through the procedure if he could," McAuliffe told "The Early Show" on CBS television. "He's going to try and get as much in as he can."

Just last week, Clinton paid his second visit to Haiti in a bid to get aid moving to the impoverished Caribbean nation struck by a 7.0-magnitude quake on January 12, and apologized for the slow arrival of relief supplies.

The medical procedure on Clinton, which is widely used, involves inserting tiny wire-like tubes known as stents into the artery to prevent plaque from building up and blocking the blood flow again.

Hillary Clinton rushed from Washington to the Columbia campus of New York Presbyterian Hospital to be at her husband's side. The State Department said she had delayed her departure on a planned trip to the Gulf by one day, to Saturday.

President Barack Obama, a fellow Democrat, telephoned Clinton to wish him a speedy recovery and was told by the ex-president that he felt "absolutely great," a White House official said.

George W. Bush, a Republican who succeeded Clinton in the White House and is now working alongside him as a relief coordinator for Haiti, said he was "glad" to hear Clinton felt better.

Another well-wisher was UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who thanked Clinton for his work in Haiti.

While in the White House, Clinton famously indulged his appetites, including junk food, but in his post-presidential days he appeared to have been adhering to a stricter diet as well as a busy work schedule.

In a 2005 interview just months after the bypass surgery, he told CNN that prior to going under the knife, he realized that he was "very close to having a serious heart attack."

Since leaving office, Clinton has also battled to raise AIDS awareness, pushed for tsunami recovery in Asia and pressed for more relief to Haiti through his foundation.

Clinton was sworn in on January 20, 1993, as the 42nd US president and the first Democrat to hold the highest office in 12 years. He won a second term in 1996.

He remains hugely influential on the US political landscape, and is revered by Democrats for presiding over an economic boom time in the United States.

But his scandalous affair with intern Monica Lewinsky during his presidency and the impeachment proceedings that followed, tarnished his political legacy.