George W. Bush’s advice to all: Get an annual checkup.The former president found out that he had a blockage in a heart artery after going to the Cooper Clinic in Dallas on Monday for his annual physical examination.On Tuesday morning, doctors at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas inserted a stent to ease the blockage and said the 67-year-old was doing well and should be released from the hospital Wednesday. “President Bush is in high spirits, eager to return home tomorrow and resume his normal schedule on Thursday,” according to a statement released by Bush spokesman Freddy Ford. “He is grateful to the skilled medical professionals who have cared for him.“He thanks his family, friends and fellow citizens for their prayers and well wishes,” according to the statement. “And he encourages us all to get our regular checkups.”Bush — who is living in Dallas with his wife, Laura, after leaving the White House in 2009 — is considered one of the most physically fit presidents.While in office, he was constantly on the move, jogging and biking. Since then, he has maintained an active lifestyle that includes riding mountain bikes and participating in golf tournaments.“I love exercise,” he said in a 2007 video for Physical Fitness Month.Procedures similar to what he underwent Tuesday are not rare. Stents were placed in nearly 500,000 men in the United States in 2010, the most recent year with statistics available.A stent is a special tube placed in the artery with a balloon. It keeps the artery open so blood can flow to the heart. If blood flow slows down, there can be chest pain. If a clot forms and blocks blood flow to part of the heart muscle, a heart attack can occur, according to the American Heart Association.Factors that contribute to the risk of heart disease include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stress, smoking and family history, according to the association.Heart problems recently claimed the lives of well-known local radio personality Kidd Kraddick, who died last month of cardiac arrest, and of actor James Gandolfini, the star of HBO’s The Sopranos, who died of a heart attack in June.While Bush has no history of heart trouble, he has needed medical attention several times. In May 2004, toward the end of his first term, Bush fell from his mountain bike during a 17-mile ride. He was wearing a helmet and mouth guard but had scrapes and scratches on his face, hand and knees. In July 2005, he crashed his bike again while on slick pavement in Scotland and suffered bruises and scrapes. In 2002, he briefly lost consciousness while watching a football game on TV at the White House and hit his head. The White House said Bush hadn’t been feeling well and blamed the incident on an improperly eaten pretzel. In 1998 and 1999, while governor of Texas, he had two benign colon polyps removed. In 2002, while president, he had a follow-up colonoscopy and invoked a section of the 25th Amendment temporarily transferring presidential powers to Vice President Dick Cheney. The colonoscopy showed no signs of cancer. Countless concernsBush was the 43rd president, serving from 2001 to 2009.There was an outpouring of support and prayers for him on social media sites Tuesday, especially on the Facebook page for the George W. Bush Presidential Center.Texas officials were among those posting notes.Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst called for “prayers for a speedy recovery to former President George W. Bush after his successful heart surgery.” U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Coppell, asked his Facebook followers to “please keep my friend George W. Bush in your thoughts and prayers, and join me in wishing him a speedy recovery.” And Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, joined others in “wishing a speedy recovery to former President George W. Bush.”Former first daughter Jenna Bush Hager — who made the former president a first-time grandfather this year when she gave birth to daughter Margaret Laura “Mila” Hager — posted a thank-you note online for all the concern expressed for her father.“Thanks for your prayers for my dear Dad,” she posted on Twitter with a photo of her dad playing with her daughter. “He’s well and we’re eager for him to return to Grandpa duty.”Presidential librarySince leaving office, Bush had maintained a low profile until this year, when he drew worldwide attention for the formal opening of his presidential center at Southern Methodist University. In April, more than 10,000 people crowded onto the campus for the dedication of the $250 million three-story complex, with a library, a museum and an institute honoring Bush. Attendees included “the world’s most exclusive club” — President Barack Obama and four former presidents, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. While the presidents praised his dedication to country and his guidance during one of the darkest periods in U.S. history, Bush said at the time that he still has much he wants to do — help children, aid countries in fighting poverty and disease, empower women nationwide and continue to support service members.“I dedicate this library with an unshakable faith in the future of our country,” he said. “Whatever challenges come before us, I will always believe our nation’s best days lie ahead.” This report includes material from The Associated Press.
Anna Tinsley, 817-390-7610 Twitter: @annatinsley