Former US president Bill Clinton talked with his family on Tuesday as he rested comfortably in an intensive care unit a day after undergoing a quadruple bypass operation on Monday, his office said.
"He is awake and alert" at the Columbia-Presbyterian Center of New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, according to a statement released by his office late Tuesday afternoon.
Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans, killing about half a million people each year. Clinton's case has focused attention on how the disease can progress silently for many years before it leads to pain from angina or a heart attack. Clinton, 58, did not have a heart attack.
But in recent months, Clinton's doctors said he experienced chest pain and shortness of breath with physical activity without realizing what the symptoms were due to. Last week they occurred while he was resting at his home in Chappaqua, New York, and he sought medical care. An angiogram, performed at Westchester County Medical Center, showed that, in retrospect, they were the pains of angina from blockage in four coronary arteries.
He was immediately transferred to Columbia-Presbyterian where, in a four-hour procedure, a team of surgeons led by Dr. Craig Smith, the hospital's chief of cardio-thoracic surgery, took blood vessels from Clinton's chest and left leg and sewed them to arteries feeding his heart, creating detours for the bloodstream around segments that were dangerously choked with plaque.
Clinton's Web site (www.clintonfoundation.org) has received more than 65,000 messages of support, including 25,000 on Monday.