October 15th, 2013
08:07 AM ET
11 months ago

Bush had 95% blockage before August heart procedure, sources say

(CNN) - Former President George W. Bush's heart situation that caused him to undergo a procedure in August was more serious than originally thought, as two sources close to the 43rd president now confirm he had a 95% blockage in an artery.

Bush, 67, had a stent placed in his heart in August at a Dallas hospital one day after the blockage was discovered.

While a 95% blockage is significant, Bush's doctors are not commenting about how grave the situation may or may not have been.

National Journal first reported the level of the blockage, but one source close to Bush downplayed any reports of a near-death experience. Another source said "it was very serious."

The rate at which a vessel becomes blocked is more important than the overall blockage, and the heart can do a good job of compensating, if it has time.

"Certainly President Bush was at significant risk having a 95% blockage in one of his coronary arteries. That doesn't mean he was going to have a heart attack," Warren Levy, a cardiologist, told CNN. "But certainly he was at significant risk for a heart attack and something did need to be done."

Marc Siegel, a physician and medical director of Doctor Radio at NYU Langone Medical Center, penned a column for USA Today in August praising the doctors' fast work on Bush's heart.

"Bush's stress test showed EKG changes, and what happened next was also prudent. A CT angiogram revealed a severe blockage in a crucial position in a coronary artery that was easily life threatening," he wrote.

Bush said last month at a golf tournament for other wounded veterans that he's "doing fine."

"Other than the fact that I nearly bled to death when I nicked myself shaving because I'm taking blood thinner, I'm doing pretty good," he joked in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America." "I thought you were going to have to put a tourniquet on me."

Over Memorial Day weekend, Bush led another group of wounded warriors on an annual long distance bike ride at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

The 43rd president was known for having good health during his tenure at the White House. For exercise, he was an active runner and frequently rode his mountain bike.

– CNN's John King, Erin McPike, Andrew Morse, and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


Filed under: George W. Bush
soundoff (360 Responses)
  1. Scott Cisney

    When this story came out a month or so ago I read it with interest. Perhaps the story added or left out details. BUT, what the story said was his blockage was determined during a routine physical exam. Now the only way to determine WHERE and HOW MUCH an artery is blocked in the heart is with an angiogram. Which is NOT done during a "routine physical", at least not for any of us. If you are in your 60s and unbeknownst to you you are developing an arterial blockage in your heart, you may have no symptoms. You may go in for a physical, you may get a "stress test" done by your doctor, but it can easily miss this developing problem. You wouldn't know you had this problem unless you presented yourself at the emergency room, short of breath, with chest pains. THEN they would likely do an angiogram to determin IF you have a blockage and WHERE the blockage is. THEN they MAY perform a procedure to install a stent or other technique to allieviate the blockage. But none of this would happen in a routine physical. Not for any of us anyway. FYI.

    October 15, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  2. Tim

    It's so sad but preditable that the very people who preach tolerence and inclusiveness to vehmently are always the harshest critics of someone they do not agree with to the point of being downright cruel and seemingly uncaring and exclusive. I too did not agree with a lot of his policy and presidency, but wish him the best in recovery.

    October 15, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  3. Michael

    War criminal – plain and simple...

    October 15, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  4. Sheila

    Did not know that George W. Bush had a heart...Wonder how many deals he's making to the Good Lord to pull him through..

    October 15, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  5. Jerry5555

    Obama talked so much trash about bush before he was organizer in chief, and now as president he continues to keep 90% of Bush's policies... I love politicians, they're the biggist crooks!

    October 15, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  6. Malory Archer

    Tim

    It's so sad but preditable that the very people who bash a sitting president for problems created prior to his reelection would come to this message thread and attempt to create a strawman by accusing others of what they themselves do to the opposition. Nobody was posting negative comments about the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylavana until your ilk projected that we were! Get over yourselves – you created the hate, now wallow in it!

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    October 15, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  7. oldleftcoastdude

    Having had this procedure done a few years back, I can say that a 95% blockage in any of the arteries of the heart is extremely dangerous and he was on the verge of a heart attack, pure and simple. They got him just in time and I'll wager that when he woke up, he felt 20 years younger.

    October 15, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  8. Chicago

    Hey Ginny, Bush helps raise money for the Warrior project. Is that OK to do or not? By the way, please tell us what branch of service Obama served under? Oh, so he didn't even put a uniform on at all. Bush flew planes so I think he wasn't exactly doing nothing, huh? How about you start worrying about the current president and how he illegally uses the IRS and Justice Department to punish political enemies as well as covers up terrorist attacks with phony youtube video cover stories. How about that huh?

    October 15, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  9. JY

    As a christian, my prayers are out for him, considering that he lied to America and the world to start a useless unjust war in Iraq and failed in Afghanistan he deserves what he got.

    October 15, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  10. The Real Tom Paine

    I wish the man a speedy recovery, and a long and productive retirement. None of us have the perspective of having to sit in that chair, making decisions that affect the lives of millions. I admire Bush for his work with getting medical help to Africa to deal with the AIDS epidemic: for that alone he deserves respect. Its a pity that those demanding respect for the former president are the first ones to say our freedoms is being given away by the current occupant of the job, that he does not understand America, etc. I wish people would get a grip on their hate, on both sides, or better still, let it go.

    October 15, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  11. tbone

    He put this country through a lot of pain.

    October 15, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  12. teaparty days are numbered

    now i see the big picture about his fumbled presidency, he wasn't getting enough oxygen to that BB sized brain of his, kind of like ronnie reagan and his ahlzheimers when he was pres.

    October 15, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  13. lihuanhuan2003

    He deserve it. He should disappear in the world as soon as possible

    October 15, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  14. billmosby

    We know that his carotids have been 95% blocked since birth. Did they do anything about those?

    October 15, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  15. billmosby

    He's needed stents in his carotids for a long time. Did they fix those yet?

    October 15, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  16. G

    @ Rob- And he was never given credit for being only one of two Presidents who presided over attacks on US soil.
    --–

    Really? REALLY?

    You think he deserves to be praised for being in office when 9-11 happened? 9-11 was an intelligence failure, something we had warnings about. As for decisions in Americas favor, how does preemptively attacking a country that had nothing to do with 9-11 and no WMDs work in Americas favor? How does thousands of Americans dead or wounded work in Americas favor? How does spending trillions of dollars for a war we should not have started work in Americas favor?

    October 15, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  17. The Real Tom Paine

    -teaparty days are numbered

    now i see the big picture about his fumbled presidency, he wasn't getting enough oxygen to that BB sized brain of his, kind of like ronnie reagan and his ahlzheimers when he was pres
    *********************
    Is there a point to this, or are you just auditioning for Chelsea Lately's show by posting the most innappropriate comment you possibly can?

    To the rest of you all taking advantage of a press release to vent your pet hates, grow up. We're better than this.

    October 15, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  18. Fred Flintstone

    Things like this kinda make you start realizing your mortality don't they George?..maybe works the conscience too?.

    October 15, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  19. Max

    Good thing for him that he's got government provided healthcare.

    October 15, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  20. wab

    What about the suffering the world has to do ,because of his action !

    October 15, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  21. jake

    I just had the same thing. I noticed I was tired more than usual but felt no symptoms other than that. They gave me a tread mill and determined I was 95% blocked in two arteries. The procedure was nothing. It took about 45 minutes and I could see it while itwas happening. I immediately felt much better after the stents.

    October 15, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  22. sage

    he has no heart, kinda like cheney

    October 15, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  23. MD_Moderate

    I had a very similar issue 9 years ago. The only way I became aware of the issue was to exercise enough to get my heart rate up to the point where I felt some discomfort in my left arm. That led me to see a doctor, then a stress test that confirmed I had a "problem" somewhere. That led to an angiogram, that resulted in a baloon angioplasty with a stent in my left anterior descending coronary artery – aslo know as the widowmaker! Not sure if this was the same artery for GW Bush, but full blockage will kill you quickly. Moral of the story, if you don't exercise and get your heart rate up on a regular basis, you may never see this problem until it's too late – like the next time you shovel snow or decide to play touch football on Thanksgiving Day. Good luck.

    October 15, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  24. CB

    Scott Cisney

    When this story came out a month or so ago I read it with interest. Perhaps the story added or left out details. BUT, what the story said was his blockage was determined during a routine physical exam. Now the only way to determine WHERE and HOW MUCH an artery is blocked in the heart is with an angiogram. Which is NOT done during a "routine physical
    -–

    I am sure that you are 100% correct in that a sitting or past President gets a much more thorough physical than any of us would get, but an EKG would not be unusual in a normal physical. The article did state that his EKG showed abnormalities. That alone would lead to further investigation. I had a similar thing happen in a pre-surgical physical, when an EKG showed an abnormality, and further tests showed a heart problem that I was unaware of. Pres Bush should be thankful that it was discovered in this manner and not in an emergency room. People that have no access to health care , or chose to forgo routine checkups are usually not so fortunate.

    October 15, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  25. holly wood dood

    i i dunno how someone with access to THE best healthcare in the world could have gone undetected for so long-–btw, i never liked him as a president but LOVE that he's stayed out of insane national politics for the most part since leaving office--as a former democrat, i'm now the party of NEITHER-–our country is spiraling down faster than my toilet water

    October 15, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
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