SLU Cardiologist Explains George W. Bush’s Heart Concerns

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George W. Bush, John Boehner

U.S. President George W. Bush and then-Minority Leader John Boehner on Oct. 30, 2007. (credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

CBS St. Louis (con't)

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A new report shows former President George W. Bush underwent emergency cardiac surgery last August after he was found to have a 95 percent blockage in a coronary artery.

So how close was he to a fatal heart attack?

Saint Louis University Hospital cardiology chief Dr. Michael Lim says a 95 percent blockage doesn’t necessarily mean a heart attack is imminent.

“It doesn’t increase the risk of a heart attack. It probably means that you have symptoms at some point of activity because your blood flow will be restricted,” Lim explained. “Just like if there are two lanes of a freeway that are closed, it will be harder to get to the other side if there’s enough cars going through.”

Lim calls that buildup “stable plaque” which has been there awhile, allowing the heart to compensate over time. It can be treated with medicine and a stent.

Unstable plaque, Lim says, is the real killer, the equivalent of an interstate crash which ties up all the lanes at one time, causing chaos and possibly leading to death.

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