George W. Bush’s recent heart problems were far more dangerous than generally believed — potentially life-threatening, in fact.
Sources familiar with the former president’s medical situation told National Journal that a major blockage in a coronary artery discovered during Bush’s annual physical exam in August had almost completely shut off blood flow to one of his heart chambers.
“He was more than 95% occluded,” an authoritative source said. “With a blockage like that in a main artery you’re supposed to die. He was pretty lucky they caught it.”
Dr. Jonathan Reiner, an interventional cardiologist at George Washington University who has treated former Vice President Dick Cheney but was not involved in Bush’s care, noted that a blockage of that magnitude wouldn’t necessarily be fatal in all patients but is a very serious situation requiring prompt treatment.
“Every case is different,” Reinert said. “It depends on several factors, including how quickly a blockage has developed. But it’s a very important vessel. If you occlude that particular artery it can kill you.”
A prominent internist who asked not to be identified added that Bush’s blockage, if undiagnosed, would almost certainly have risked “a grave cardiac event.”
Even with a 95 percent blockage, Reiner said, blood will still be flowing through the impaired artery, but the heart muscle must work harder, particularly during vigorous activity. The added strain when blood flow is diminished can lead to serious cardiac complications, including a heart attack.
The 43rd president has exercised regularly for years and is generally believed to be in excellent health. Nevertheless, a stress test that’s standard with all physicals at the renowned Cooper Clinic in Dallas turned up worrisome changes to Bush’s electrocardiogram readings. His physicians quickly ordered up a CT angiogram that revealed the magnitude of the blockage and prompted them to recommend inserting a stent to open the artery. That procedure was done the next morning at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital without complication. Bush spent the night at the hospital for observation and is reported to be recovering normally.
At the time some physicians wondered whether the stent was medical overkill, given that Bush has no known family history of heart disease and is in good shape. Multiple sources knowledgeable about Bush’s condition, however, said there’s no question the treatment was medically necessary.
A spokesman for the Cooper Clinic declined to discuss any aspects of Bush’s care, citing patient privacy. Bush spokesman Freddy Ford also declined comment.
By all appearances, the ex-president has bounced back smartly from his health scare. He’s been cleared to travel, attending the President’s Cup golf matches in Ohio last weekend. He’s also returned to playing golf and riding mountain bikes, but doctors have put limits on his normally-manic speeds and the duration of his workouts.
“He’s back on the bike — easy, not hard,” a friend said. “But he’s feeling terrific and doing fine.”
What We're Following See More »
Instead of his usual stump speech, Bernie Sanders tonight threw his support behind Hillary Clinton, providing a clear contrast between Clinton and GOP nominee Donald Trump on the many issues he used to discuss in his campaign stump speeches. Sanders spoke glowingly about the presumptive Democratic nominee, lauding her work as first lady and as a strong advocate for women and the poor. “We need leadership in this country which will improve the lives of working families, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor,” he said. “Hillary Clinton will make a great president, and I am proud to stand with her tonight."
In a stark contrast from Michelle Obama's uplifting speech, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke about the rigged system plaguing Americans before launching into a full-throated rebuke of GOP nominee Donald Trump. Trump is "a man who has never sacrificed anything for anyone," she claimed, before saying he "must never be president of the United States." She called him divisive and selfish, and said the American people won't accept his "hate-filled America." In addition to Trump, Warren went after the Republican Party as a whole. "To Republicans in Congress who said no, this November the American people are coming for you," she said.
"In this election, and every election, it's about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives," Michelle Obama said. "There is only one person who I trust with that responsibility … and that is our friend Hillary Clinton." In a personal and emotional speech, Michelle Obama spoke about the effect that angry oppositional rhetoric had on her children and how she chose to raise them. "When they go low, we go high," Obama said she told her children about dealing with bullies. Obama stayed mostly positive, but still offered a firm rebuke of Donald Trump, despite never once uttering his name. "The issues a president faces cannot be boiled down to 140 characters," she said.
Many Bernie Sanders delegates have spent much of the first day of the Democratic National Convention resisting unity, booing at mentions of Hillary Clinton and often chanting "Bernie! Bernie!" Well, one of the most outspoken Bernie Sanders supporters just told them to take a seat. "To the Bernie-or-bust people: You're being ridiculous," said comedian Sarah Silverman in a brief appearance at the Convention, minutes after saying that she would proudly support Hillary Clinton for president.
The Democratic National Committee issued a formal apology to Bernie Sanders today, after leaked emails showed staffers trying to sabotage his presidential bid. "On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email," DNC officials said in the statement. "These comments do not reflect the values of the DNC or our steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process. The DNC does not—and will not—tolerate disrespectful language exhibited toward our candidates."