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Bill Clinton Hospitalized

Aired February 11, 2010 - 20:00   ET


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hi, everybody.

We are picking up with the breaking news that we have been following for you all afternoon, at this very moment, President Bill Clinton in a New York hospital recovery room. He is recuperating from heart surgery. His friends say he is in good spirits at this hour.

We are Awaiting a statement right now from the president's cardiologist. He is expected to speak about 30 minutes from now at the hospital. And we're going to bring that to you live when it happens.

The former president, as many know, has been keeping a breakneck schedule these past few days, two trips to Haiti in this past month alone. We're going to bring you complete coverage of this story tonight. I'm going to be joined by some very close friends of the former president. We will also a little bit this broader issue that his health scare raises, which is America's battle with one of its number-one killers, heart disease.

But we're going to start tonight with Jessica Yellin. She is at New York Presbyterian Hospital, where President Clinton is recovering tonight.

Jessica, what can you tell us?

Oh, I apologize. Apparently, we're having some audio problems with Jessica's mike. She's going to join us with some of the basic details of what's going on at the hospital.

But let me bring in right now Dr. William Cole, who is a cardiologist at New York University Medical Center, to talk to us a little bit about the procedure that the president underwent -- that former President Bill Clinton underwent today.

Let me just first ask you, we know, as has been described, that he was having chest pains, and, apparently, chest pains over the course of a few days. But does this mean when he went in to have this procedure that he actually had a heart attack, or no?

DR. WILLIAM COLE, NYU CARDIOLOGIST: No. Well, with the information I have, I can't say. But having chest pain doesn't necessarily mean that you had a heart attack. It means that you were not getting enough blood to the heart.

BROWN: But if a stent is put in, it also doesn't mean that you had a heart attack.

COLE: No, not at all. It doesn't necessarily mean that.

It means that he had some problem with blood flow that could be temporary and transient, and his chest pain probably came and went, I'm assuming. And because it was typical of angina from the heart, they decided that they obviously needed to look and do an angiogram.

BROWN: OK. Stand by for a second, Doctor. We're going to come back to you.

But I want to go back to Jessica Yellin. We fixed her audio there, I believe.

Jessica, you there?


So, we understand President Clinton is up and talking to daughter, Chelsea, to close aides, and no doubt now to Secretary Clinton, who arrived here about a half-an-hour ago. Now, President Clinton arrived at this hospital this afternoon after multiple aides tell us that he had been experiencing symptoms for some days and some sense of chest pains.

I want to read you a statement that was released by the Clinton Foundation. They say that: "Following a visit to his cardiologist he, President Clinton, underwent a procedure to place two stents in one of his President Clinton is in good spirits and will continue to focus on the work of his foundation and Haiti's relief and long-term recovery efforts."

Campbell, here's a note that should give you a sense of how President Clinton was doing today. On his way into the operation, we're told by Terry McAuliffe, his close friend, the president was on the phone talking about Haiti relief efforts as they were wheeling him in and an aide said, Mr. President, you're going to have to give us that phone. It's time to get off now.

We're told that he's going to be kept overnight here for observation. Now, this is the very same hospital where in 2004 he had a quadruple bypass procedure, much more serious procedure than the one that took place today, and, again, a second procedure in 2005 to clear up some scar tissue.

But the president has led a very active life ever since then. As you know, he's made two trips to Haiti. Most recently last week he was there. And he was even in Davos, Switzerland, most recently. What I want to emphasize is that, while friends and associates say that he is exceptionally active, some say he even still leads a frenetic life, that they say this event today was not life threatening, was not catastrophic, in their view.

They insist -- he's being kept here for observation, but they feel good about his outlook going forward. And as a side note to that, Secretary Clinton's trip to the Middle East, which she was planning to begin tomorrow, is still on, but delayed by just one day, Campbell.

BROWN: Jessica Yellin for us at the hospital.

Jessica, thanks so much.

Let me go back now to Dr. William Cole, again, a cardiologist at New York University Medical Center.

We were talking a little bit before Jessica about the procedure, itself. And explain to us, first of all, two stents, as Jessica said, were put in. But why would a doctor say, here's why we need to do that?

COLE: Well, the fact that he was having chest pain was the first thing that made them worry and basically it was a sign that something had changed.

And, recently, perhaps one of his arteries had developed a new narrowing or perhaps one of the vessels that they had used for bypass had developed a narrowing. And the nuanced sort of chest pain told them that something had altered in his arteries.

BROWN: OK. And the stents, themselves, they're tiny little things, right?

COLE: They're very small. They get deployed by balloons that get inflated and the stents get embedded into the wall of the artery, sort of like scaffolding, to maintain the artery's patency and to decrease the risk of it re-narrowing.

BROWN: And then what happens now? We heard he's in the recovery room. He appears to be in good spirits, as everyone has said. What are they watching for over the next day or so?

COLE: Well, there's a few things that they have to watch for. First of all, in the first day, if they have a good result, the likelihood of something happening to him is very, very small.

But the real thing is to really reassess all the treatment that he's under in terms of the medications and his lifestyle and whether everything could be moved up a notch to decrease the chance of this happening again.

BROWN: Well, I was going to say that, because James Carville, who's a longtime friend of the president's, who's going to be here in a second, had said that the trip he took to Haiti last week had been enormously stressful for him. Stress is obviously a contributor to all this kind of stuff. yes?

COLE: It's hard to really know.

This can happen without any clear-cut precipitating factor. And I assume with him you probably have something he's done the week before that you can always blame as a stress. So, I don't think you can really blame the work that he's doing for what's happening, unless it was not allowing him to do what he needed to do for his own health, if he wasn't eating correctly, which I don't think is true.

And I'm assuming he's been on a lot of very aggressive medications to prevent this from happening.

BROWN: Right.

COLE: You just worry people who are workaholics sometimes don't really spend the time taking care of themselves. And that would be the only concern I would have with him.

BROWN: He at the time of his initial heart surgery that Jessica mentioned had extensive heart disease, 90 percent blockage in some of the arteries. Once you have had that and it's sort of progressed that far, is -- I guess it's always likely to return, right? Or can these procedures sort of cure you?


COLE: No, no, the problem is he obviously developed the problem in his 50s for a combination of reasons, genetic, environmental, diet, lack of exercise.

These are things that are -- theoretically, you can alter many of them, but that you can't totally prevent things from getting worse. And that's why these patients have to be watched very closely and especially they need to be alerted to the development of any new symptoms. And obviously he did the right thing.

BROWN: Right.

COLE: People frequently might develop symptoms again and not pay attention to it.

BROWN: Well, it's fortunate, certainly, that he was back from Haiti and here in New York and close to his own medical team when this happened.

COLE: Obviously.

BROWN: Very good to have you here. Appreciate you joining us, Dr. William Cole. Thanks for your time.

COLE: You're welcome.

BROWN: President Clinton, as we mentioned, had spent the past few weeks racing back and forth to Haiti. And his old friend James Carville did say that these trips had been enormously stressful for him.

James is going to be here, along with Paul Begala, the Bill Clinton brain trust coming up.

And as we mentioned before, we're also awaiting a statement from the president's cardiologist. He's going to be coming out to the cameras live in this hour. We will bring that to you when it happens.



BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My interest here is the same interest I have when I work in Africa or Latin America. I want to build the capacity to the country to chart its own course, so they can trust me not to be a neocolonialist. I'm not interested in doing that. And I'm too old.


BROWN: Former President Bill Clinton just days ago in Haiti. He's been keeping a demanding schedule in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake.

And we want to go to our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who is in Port-au-Prince.

And, Sanjay, you just spoke to President Clinton's counselor, Doug Band, I know, who was with him at the hospital. What did he tell you?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he wanted to clarify a couple of things, that, first of all, President Clinton has been having some of this discomfort in his chest for a couple of days now, a few days, as Doug e-mailed me, and also that he really didn't think after speaking to the president, and speaking to his doctors, that this in any way was related to his work schedule or diet or cholesterol.

And Doug just wanted to make that pretty clear as well. You know, we're talking about blockages in the coronary vessels. And I know that you have talked about this already, Campbell, but this can happen over time, where the blood vessels starts to close off.

And that's why the stents are put in, Campbell.

BROWN: Sanjay, you did see him. I know you recently spent time with him in Haiti. What was your sense of him when you saw him?

GUPTA: Well, you know, it's interesting. I wasn't looking for anything medical. I was touring a hospital with him and interviewing him as well.

You know, I don't know. He was getting around pretty well. He's walking down a long tarmac on a pretty hot day. He didn't have any shortness of breath. He certainly wasn't complaining about anything. And he seemed like he was doing fine.

But, again, I wasn't looking specifically for anything medical. So, my guess is that when he was down here in Haiti, he obviously planned the trip, that he wasn't having any problems, at least at that time. And I saw him throughout most of his trip here and he seemed like he was well the entire time. BROWN: All right, Sanjay, and I know that you're going to come back with us in a few minutes.

We're waiting to hear from Clinton's cardiologist. As we had mentioned to people, he's going to make a statement. And then Sanjay is going to be back with us to kind of talk us through the procedure and give us a little more detail on what exactly the president has had done.

And we want to bring in right now Paul Begala and James Carville, both longtime friends obviously and advisers of former President Clinton.

And, Paul, I know you have also spoken to some people who are near the former president tonight. What are they telling you about how he's doing?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I want to pick up on what Sanjay was saying, that what they're saying is -- and this is kind of counterintuitive to me as a layman -- I'm glad we have Dr. Gupta to translate it -- is that they're saying that this looks to them and -- their medical team, it looks to them like just the progression of treating the president after that quadruple bypass surgery six years ago, that this is not a stress-related incident, even though he's been traveling so hard and working so hard.

He always has and he always will. They say it's not about cholesterol. It's not about those sort of lifestyle things. It's just part of following up on that bypass surgery, that quadruple bypass surgery, that he had in late 2004.

BROWN: It's heart disease. You have got to constantly monitor it. That's basically -- as my limited familiarity, you're always having to stay on top of it and update your, you know, stents or do these sort of procedures as needed.

BEGALA: Right. And that's what they're saying. And I have to tell you, he has been in terrific shape. He's been a real role model for all of us.

He had all those years of eating all that good Southern food, and then he really got his act together. He's lost weight; he's fit; works out; he takes care of himself; he follows all his doctors' instructions. And I think that's all any of us can do.

And I do think it's important to him and to his team that they reiterate that to our audience, that this is not something that was brought on by a sudden surge of stress after the earthquake or a spike in his cholesterol or any of that.

BROWN: Right.

BEGALA: They say none of that is the case, that this is just, as you say, following on the progression of treating him after that quadruple bypass. BROWN: And we're going to talk a little bit more about that with you guys and a few other folks coming up, because he really not only -- after that quadruple bypass, not only did he change his lifestyle, but he used it as a real opportunity to educate people and talk to people about how crucial is it to change your lifestyle.

But, James, you did point out -- and I just want to follow up -- not that it's related to what's happened to him, but him saying how stressful this trip to Haiti was and why -- it was just, obviously, I'm guessing, the magnitude of the challenge that he saw and how that was weighing on him.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's got to be stressful, I mean, to Sanjay, Anderson, anybody that's been down there.

But Paul makes a good. The idea that he's going down there, that's going to cause his arteries to close up is -- I'm not -- you would have to ask the doctors, but that seems to me as a layman to be pretty questionable.

But, yes, it's not exactly like -- I mean, that's a pretty -- the place is devastated and a place that he cares deeply about and he's made any number of trips there. And I'm the same age a the president, and that's tiresome, but it doesn't mean that you're going to have a heart attack, by any stretch of the imagination.


BROWN: Right.

And just to clarify, too, James, for people, he was really involved and really passionate about the situation in Haiti and what needed to be done there well before the earthquake even happened.

CARVILLE: Oh, yes, during his presidency, I mean, and as was the secretary of state. I mean, the family has been very committed to that country and trying to help them.

But you couldn't be -- I haven't been there, but I was watching our reports. You couldn't be a human being and go down there and not be sort of stressed to no end. That's pretty understandable.

But, again, as Paul points out and as his people say, that's not related. People go in and out of Haiti every day and stressed and upset, but they don't -- that doesn't mean they're going to have heart disease.

BROWN: All right, guys, stand by.

We, again, as we had mentioned before, are waiting to hear from his cardiologist, who is going to talk a little bit about today's procedure apparently at the hospital live in just a few minutes. We will have that as soon as it happens -- more ahead when we come back.


BROWN: You are looking live at the hospital where we are awaiting a press conference by former President Clinton's cardiologist.

President Clinton underwent quadruple bypass surgery back in 2004. That's a procedure that took four hours. That happened at the same hospital. In his first interview after that original surgery, he told Larry King, in his view, that it was a -- quote -- "mystical experience."

Listen to what he said at the time.


CLINTON: You know, by the time I got to the point of doing the surgery, I realized that probably the greatest danger had passed. I was very close to having a serious heart attack. I had big time blockage.

And I felt very grateful to be going under the surgery without serious damage to my heart so that I thought I could make a recovery. But still, it was kind of a mystical, interesting experience, which I wrote about in the afterward in the book.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": That's right. You've done a new afterward, right?

CLINTON: Yes. Then I just talked about what I did in the years after I left the White House, including the surgery. And I felt very -- I didn't feel afraid, but I was kind of interested and awestruck to see what was going to happen.

KING: How about the second surgery, about which we know little?

CLINTON: Well, what happened is, about 10 percent of the people who have this surgery, as you know, have some fluid buildup.

KING: I didn't have any.

CLINTON: Only 10 percent do. Most of them, the fluid either goes away or you just inject a needle in your side with local anesthetic and you take it out, you basically suction it out. In less than 1 percent of the cases, people with a particular susceptibility to inflammation have a latent inflammation, like, when I took Motrin for six weeks, you know, for the pain, after it was over.

And when you stop taking it, the inflammation can flare up again and begin this fluid buildup. And I walking everyday. I was doing fine. People said I looked a little pale, but I felt great. And you know, I was keeping my weight down, doing all that. I passed the stress test.

And the doctor said, "You're in the top 5 percent of fitness for men your age." I said, "That's very not good, because I'm not young anymore. So I want to do better." And he said, "Well, how do you feel?" I said, "I feel fine, but once in a week, I have kind of shooting pain in my ribs."

So they just took an X-ray. And they said, "The good news is you don't have bone cancer. The bad news is half your lung's closed because you have got six eight-ounce glasses of fluid between your rib cage and your lung."


BROWN: And Paul Begala, James Carville back with us now, along with CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, as we await a press conference with the president's, former president's cardiologist here in New York.

And, Paul, you touched on this a little bit earlier. He admitted that that surgery back in 2004 and the follow-up really changed his life. How did you see him alter his lifestyle after that?

BEGALA: Well, first off, the diet, the exercise. He got a lot better in the White House, I have to say. I traveled with him in the campaign. And we ate our way across America.


BEGALA: I mean, we really both just ballooned up. We just couldn't stop eating.

And then, soon enough, the advance people learned that, right? So, you go to Texas and you bring him his favorite mango ice cream from the Menger Hotel. And then you go to Louisiana, they bring you gumbo.

After he got in the White House, Hillary brought in Dean Ornish, famous doctor, and tried to really clean up the White House mess and clean up how the chef operated there. And that helped a lot. But after that bypass, he dropped weight, and he's kept it off. He's very careful about following the doctors' guidelines, works out. And he's done everything that he can do.

I just was so struck watching that interview. That recovery from that surgery was I think a lot harder and a lot longer than he certainly anticipated -- he's a quick healer generally -- but also than I think that any of us really knew. It was a really tough recovery.

And he's made a 100 percent recovery. But when he went and campaigned for John Kerry, it was only seven weeks after that surgery. And I know he was in gruesome pain. It was really an act of sheer will that he was able to do that.

BROWN: And I remember looking at him. I think a lot of us -- a lot of people were really worried about him. He got so incredibly thin at that time, too.

He remains, James, as you know, a workaholic. And he is legendary for staying up until the wee hours of the night, talking to friends. And, I mean, 4:00 and 5:00 a.m. Does he still do all of that?

CARVILLE: I don't know, because I never stay up that late. Every time I'm with him, I go to bed before he does.


CAVUTO: But I'm told, yes, he stays up late. I'm just -- we're on different schedules. The president and I are not awake but about six of the same hours in a day. I tend to go to sleep early and get up pretty early. He's kind of the opposite, if you will.


CARVILLE: But, yes, and he has a ton of energy, yes, he does.

BROWN: Yes, without question.

And, Candy, you followed Bill Clinton since his campaign in 1992. How have you seen him change over the years? He's really the first baby boomer president and he's growing older and sharing the experience very openly with the public along the way, isn't he?


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. He's kind of like this walking time clock for baby boomers, because he was the first post-World War II generation president. And I don't know. There was all that energy coming off the bus with Tipper Gore and Al Gore, and Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, and they bussed across the country, and there was just all this great vitality.

And there still is great vitality. But in so many ways, I think he's showing the best part to baby boomers of growing older. He's just active, active, active. He has spent so much of his time doing philanthropic work, I mean, doing AIDS and fighting obesity in children and now down in Haiti.

So, you know, he has been, and I think he wanted to be, a role model for that kind of thing. And I just think he speaks to a certain age group that has really fought this whole aging thing all along.

And -- and, so, obviously, there are complications that come with that. But I think it's interesting to hear that this complication doesn't have to do with the fact that he has straightened out his lifestyle, but more has to do with the first heart attack, and that he's still taking care of himself.

So, it's just -- as I say, it's like watching a time clock and it's your sort of own internal one in your head.

BROWN: And, Paul, how do you expect him to bounce back?

BEGALA: Well, you know, you can't -- well, we should say it. You can't keep the big dog on the porch. He's going to be back and I think as quickly as he can. You know, he does have to listen to the docs and he's going to have to take the time it takes to recover. But -- and we will wait. I can't wait to hear from Dr. Smith, his cardiologist, who I think is going to have a statement for us pretty soon, to get a sense of the recovery time.

This is not as an invasive of procedure. Dr. Gupta could tell us. But they didn't have to cut him open. It wasn't open heart surgery.

BROWN: Right.

BEGALA: It's inserted by a catheter in his leg. And so the trauma to him in that sense shouldn't be so great. And, again, he wants to stress this to people, that his being active and his work, particularly on behalf of Haiti, is not what he and his team believe caused this at all.

And he's not going to stop doing that, I can guarantee you. In fact, if I can put in a plug,, he is still, he and President Bush, raising money for those people in Haiti who don't have access to the kind of medical care that he's enjoying right now. He and President Bush have raised over $27 million for those poor people in Haiti.

But I think we can do more and we can do better. So, maybe some good can come of this. Check out and send some money to help those people in Haiti.

BROWN: A good note to end on.

James Carville, Paul Begala, Candy Crowley, thanks, guys. Appreciate it.

We're hearing the word stent a lot tonight. If you don't know what a stent is, you're not alone. We're going to show you exactly how it works, information everybody with heart problems should know.

And, of course, we're awaiting a statement from President Clinton's cardiologist. Should happen any minute now. And when it does, we're going to bring you that live as well. Stay with us.


BROWN: And for those just joining us, I want to catch you up on our breaking news tonight.

You are looking at -- you're about to be looking at -- there you go -- pictures of -- a live picture of the hospital where we are awaiting a press conference with President Clinton's cardiologist.

First lady Hillary -- or -- excuse me -- first lady -- former first lady -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived at the New York Presbyterian Hospital just a little while ago.

And we are told that he is in good spirits. He was admitted after experiencing discomfort in his chest. One of his closest aides called to clarify a little bit. Apparently, he had been having these minor chest pains over the course of a number of days. Doctors inserted two stents in one of his coronary arteries.

And, again, we are watching here for his cardiologist, who's going to come out and fill us in on the procedure. But, again, he's in good shape, from what we understand, in high spirits.

And as we have also been telling you, he has been keeping a very busy schedule, especially over these past few weeks. I mean, just take a look at this. January 18, he arrives in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, less than a week after the earthquake hit there. Then, January 21, he was back in New York leading a news conference at the United Nations.

January 28, he's off to Switzerland to attend the economic forum in Davos. He's in front of the cameras in New York again on February 3, addressing reporters once again at the U.N. Two days later, he's back in Haiti. I mean, that's a schedule for anybody, a tough schedule for anybody to follow.

When he was brought to the hospital, as we had mentioned earlier, he had two small stents put into his coronary artery. And we want to bring back Dr. Sanjay Gupta who is in Haiti who's been with us throughout the evening, just to kind of explain this to us, Sanjay. We have heard a lot today about stents. Walk us through what they are exactly.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, when you're talking about trying to open up blood vessels to the heart, you really are sort of talking about plumbing here. Not to undermine or belittle this procedure, but what happens here is that the heart is demanding a certain amount of oxygenated blood. And because of blockages in the coronary blood vessels, the heart is not getting it. When they do a test, they figure out where the blockages are. In this case, they put in stents. They basically put in this titanium-like tube that opens up the blood vessels as you can see there, and it simply allows more blood to get to the heart.

Now that's what the stent is. It stays in, incidentally, Campbell. There are all sorts of different types of stents. A stent, including a stent that actually gives off a little bit of medication, a little bit of blood-thinning type medication to prevent clots. So this procedure has been done for some time, but that's essentially what it is.

Incidentally, Campbell, that's different than bypass operation. I know you know that, but back in 2004, he had bypass operation. That's open heart surgery. They actually have to open the chest to perform that operation. This is done through a catheter. A catheter goes in to a blood vessel in the groin and is actually threaded up near the heart, Campbell.

BROWN: And then the stent, Sanjay, do they have to be replaced after a period of time, or how does that work?

GUPTA: No, not typically. Typically once a stent is in, it stays in. It gets monitored sometimes even by a simple chest x-ray to make sure that it hasn't moved at all. The concern sometimes with these stents is can you get little blockages around the stents because you have a foreign body in the blood vessel there? But this is typically something you keep.

BROWN: And are they a cure? I guess it sounds like it. If it stays in, it's you know, or -- is this an ongoing problem for somebody who has heart disease?

GUPTA: Well, you know, I think it's safe to say that. When someone has heart disease, they really are always going to be thinking about heart disease. And you know, clearly he had this bypass six years ago and now another procedure now. So, you know, this is something that's recurred with him and that, you know, we're going to sort of figure out and monitor, certainly for him. The doctors are going to have to figure out how to prevent that from happening again in the future. It may mean more aggressive medications. That may mean even more aggressive lifestyle changes. But this is something that he's really going to have to think about.

You know, I don't think he's cured by any means. This is, again, mainly plumbing. What causes the vessels to be narrowed, what causes the coronary arteries to become so tight that not enough blood can get through, that's still a process that needs to be addressed medically for the most part.

BROWN: And, Sanjay, just -- you know, you mentioned this is obviously a much more minor procedure than bypass surgery, but is it a painful procedure? And what's the recovery time for him?

GUPTA: Well, as far as pain goes, I think that, you know, it does involve getting a puncture in the groin area and putting a catheter through what's called the femoral artery and all the way up into the heart. So I think that it's not -- people have a little bit of discomfort with it but again, as you alluded to, nowhere near with open heart surgery.

As far as recovery goes, patients usually go home the next day or the day after. They may have a little bit of swelling at the actual site where they threaded the catheter. But they're up walking around usually within a day and can be at home. Probably a couple of weeks before he sort of wants to really be doing much. But the goal of these types of procedures is to reduce the symptoms that he was having, in this case chest pain, and also to get him back to his way of life, to his activity level. So I think that within a few weeks, maybe a month or so, we're probably going to be seeing that. Maybe even a trip back down to where I am here in Haiti.

BROWN: All right. Sanjay Gupta for us tonight. Sanjay, as always, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

We have been talking a little bit throughout the night how the president, former president has used his heart disease to educate many people about the importance of healthy eating and lifestyle changes going forward after he did have that surgery. And when we come back, we're going to look at an issue the president has acknowledged in his own life which was childhood obesity, something he talked a lot about in his autobiography. Take a listen to this.


VOICE OF BILL CLINTON, 42ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When I recovered from my heart surgery, I wanted to do something to help others avoid the same fate or worse. In May 2005, working with the American Heart Association, my foundation launched the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to halt the alarming rise of childhood obesity by 2010 and reverse it.


BROWN: And right now, you are looking at a live picture of Columbia Presbyterian hospital here in New York City where President Clinton had this procedure done a little bit earlier. We are awaiting a press conference from his cardiologist who is expected to speak any moment now. We're going to take that live as soon as it happens.

But before his heart problems, former President Bill Clinton made no secret of the fact that he likes fast food. And in 2005, he told our Dr. Sanjay Gupta that he has always had weight problems, even as a child. Listen to what he said.


BILL CLINTON, 42ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was overweight. You know, I was probably in the last generation of Americans where people widely thought a fat baby was a healthy baby. And I lived with my grandparents until I was 4. My mother went back to nursing school after my father died and they just stuffed me.

And so I was -- I always battled my weight all the way through school. Although I had pretty well gotten it down by the time I finished high school. I was 6'1" and weighed 192 pounds when I graduated from high school. And that's about what I am now.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: How bad did it get? I mean, you know, obviously -- and you've talked about this --

CLINTON: I was 5 -- when I was 13, I was 5'8" and weighed 185 pounds.

GUPTA: Is that right?


GUPTA: What was the worst meal? Can you remember the worst meal you ever had or the types of food that were the worst that you ever ate?

CLINTON: No. But I ate a lot of stuff that was high in fat. And I ate a lot of it. You know, I just didn't think about it. And I didn't have regular exercise.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: Of course after his quadruple bypass in 2004, Clinton often talked about how important good health habits are for everyone. The current first lady, Michelle Obama, has taken that message a step further and she has made ending childhood obesity a priority. This is what she said to Larry King. This was just earlier this week. Listen.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: One thing that I try to emphasize is that this isn't about weight and it's not about looks. It's not -- it's not a physical issue. It's really about the quality of life of our kids because, you know, teachers are seeing, you know, the challenges that kids with weight issues are having. Not being able to participate in gym, feeling a little more sluggish. This is a quality of life issue, and it's not about weight and diet. It's about fitness and it's about overall nutrition that we really have to be emphasizing here.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": You really think you can make a headway?

OBAMA: You know --

KING: You got a task force formed today, right?

OBAMA: Absolutely. The president signed the first ever federal memorandum that establishes a federal task force on childhood obesity. So do I think I can make some inroads?

KING: Yes.

OBAMA: I think that working with the rest of the country, with parents and business leaders and industry leaders and entertainment and sports leagues and parents and doctors and everyone, yes, I think that we can make a difference.

KING: How do you handle -- kids don't want to be told, you're overweight. Certainly you don't want to say you're fat.

OBAMA: That's right.

KING: Isn't it delicate? This is a delicate balance?

OBAMA: With my kids, again, all I have is my story, is I never talked about weight. I never discussed what the doctor said. I said you know what, we need to change how we eat and let's think of some ways we can do it.

So you can have these conversations without having the conversation. And I think it's very important that we don't unintentionally make kids more paranoid or more self-conscious. At the same time I think that it's not useful to point fingers at anyone, at kids or parents.

KING: Do you still drop in to Burger King or McDonald's? OBAMA: We don't do as much fast food but we eat burgers and fries when --

KING: You can't eliminate it.

OBAMA: And you don't have to. I mean, that's really the point here. It's really balance.

What I tell my kids is if they're eating right, you know, 70 percent of the time, then when they go to a birthday party or it's a Saturday and they're out and, you they can stop for ice cream and somebody wants to grab pizza or they have pancakes with chocolate chips in it, it's not a big deal. Because that's how kids live and that's how, you know, they wouldn't go for it if it were absolutes. And I think that's one of the messages for parents.

KING: But not daily.

OBAMA: Well, not -- you know, not daily and not every meal every day.


BROWN: And when we come back, more on what you can do tonight to protect yourself from heart disease. Stay with us.



DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: How many bypasses did you have?

BILL CLINTON, 42ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had three. I had actually four blockages, but they did three bypasses. I had 90 percent blockage in two of my arteries.

LETTERMAN: Oh, my God.

CLINTON: Seventy percent in two others.

LETTERMAN: Wow. So it was --

CLINTON: I was lucky.

LETTERMAN: It was just a matter of time. I mean, you really were on the edge there, weren't you?

CLINTON: I was. I was very lucky.


BROWN: President Clinton talking with David Letterman about his four-hour quadruple bypass surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital back in 19 -- or excuse me, 2004. He is back in the hospital tonight recovering after having a much more minor procedure. Stents put in a coronary artery today. Again, we're awaiting a press conference from his cardiologist which we will take live when that happens.

We can't repeat this fact enough. Twenty-four hundred Americans die every day from heart disease. And February is heart awareness month. And we've yet in this discussions talk about women and the high risk they face from what many doctors call the silent killer.

And Dr. Nieca Goldberg is a cardiologist with New York University. She is with me right now. And the lifetime risk of developing heart disease after the age of 40, this is for women, is 32 percent.


BROWN: What do women need to know today?

GOLDBERG: Women need to know that they're at risk for heart disease. You know, for many years, we thought that heart disease was a man's disease and a typical symptom just like former President Clinton had pressure in the chest. But sometimes the symptoms are more subtle. Shortness of breath, unexplained fatigue. The pressure doesn't have to be in the center of the chest. It's lower down. And you don't know how many of my patients tell me that they thought it was a stomachache.

BROWN: Well, especially, I'm guessing this is maybe even more of a challenge with women who tend to -- look, I mean, let's be honest, they're the caretakers of their own family.

GOLDBERG: So they minimize.

BROWN: So they tend to blow off and minimize their own symptoms through their own issues.

GOLDBERG: And in fact, when women go in to have their bypass surgery, we find out that they're more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes. And when they come to the hospital with their heart attacks, they're more likely to be in heart failure because they delay taking care of themselves.

BROWN: Obesity is obviously a contributing factor to this.

GOLDBERG: A mayor risk factor for heart disease, particularly in women. Obesity, when you carry your weight around the middle, increases risk for heart disease and also obesity leads to type 2 diabetes.

BROWN: And how do we -- I mean, it just seems as a country we're getting fatter and fatter. Obesity is really an epidemic in this country.

GOLDBERG: Obesity is definitely an epidemic.

BROWN: So, I mean, what is the one thing you would tell women on that front?

GOLDBERG: I think they need to pick up and exercise themselves and start modifying their diet. And women need to know that their children are watching and they're setting the example. And if you set the example in the home and start to eat healthier foods, particularly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, non-processed foods, then your children are going to be picking up these lifestyles.

BROWN: It's such important information. Dr. Nieca Goldberg, we really appreciate you coming in. Thanks.

GOLDBERG: Thank you.

BROWN: "LARRY KING LIVE" too starts in just a few minutes. Larry, are you there? Who are you going to be talking to tonight?

Apologies. We don't have Larry. We will hopefully speak to Larry in a few minutes.

When we come back, how long a recovery is Bill Clinton in for? That and a whole lot more news when we come back right after this.


BROWN: In just a moment, we'll have more on our breaking story. Bill Clinton in the hospital tonight. You're looking at a live picture there. We're awaiting a news conference from his cardiologist after his procedure to have a stent put in today.

He is just in case you're tuning in, doing fine. We are expecting to be updated, though, from his doctors shortly. But first, we're going to get a quick check of some other stories that are happening right now. HLN's Mike Galanos here with tonight's "Download."

Hi, Mike.

MIKE GALANOS, HLN PRIME NEWS: Hey, Campbell. First of, Iran celebrated the 31st anniversary of its Islamic Revolution today with huge government-sponsored demonstrations. However, the Iranian government deployed thousands of police and plainclothes militiamen in Tehran and other cities to quash anti-government protests, from the video there.

Here in the U.S., the big dig is on along the east coast. Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York hammered by snow yesterday. Thousands of people are still without power in places like Washington, D.C. and Maryland. And tonight, a new storm system is dumping snow in parts of the deep south including Alabama and Mississippi.

The fashion world is mourning the death of British Alexander McQueen, that is. Now he was found dead at his home this morning in central London. The cause of his death not known. McQueen changed fashion is with highly controversial shows and was one of the favorites of movie stars.

Finally this, really puzzling. Musician John Mayer apologizing for his comments in a "Playboy" interview. The pop singer/songwriter talked about African-Americans, used the "n" word and talked about his sex life in explicit terms with Jennifer Aniston and Jessica Simpson. Many of his fans are outraged. Now last night Mayer apologized during a concert in Nashville. Some kind of fallout you have from there.

BROWN: Yes, we will.

GALANOS: Campbell, back to you.

BROWN: Mike Galanos for us tonight. Mike, thanks very much.

"LARRY KING LIVE" getting started in just a few moments. When we come back, we're going to check in with Jessica Yellin who is at the hospital. We're, again, we're awaiting a statement from Bill Clinton's doctor. We'll be back right after this.


BROWN: And let's go back right now to Jessica Yellin who is there at the hospital. You're looking at this live picture where we are awaiting that statement from Bill Clinton's cardiologist tonight.

Jessica, bring everybody up to speed. I know a lot of people just joining us on what you've learned, who's there and what's going on.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATL. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Campbell. We are told that the cardiologist, Alan Schwartz, will be speaking any minute now. I can tell you that I was in touch with somebody who has been in the room with the president and says that he is resting comfortably and doing well.

BROWN: All right.

YELLIN: I know that cardiologist is walking out.

BROWN: Jessica, let me interrupt you right now.

Yes, again, Dr. Alan Schwartz, the president's cardiologist.

STEVE BARNES, SPOKESMAN: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us. My name is Steve Barnes. I'm communications director. I'll speak a little louder. Sorry.

My name is Steve Barnes. I'm communications director at the Clinton Foundation here in New York.

President Clinton first attended the new Milstein Heart Center here at New York Presbyterian Hospital Columbia in 2006 for its groundbreaking. He'd hoped to come back as a visitor and not a patient. But nevertheless, he's in great spirits and on his way to a speedy recovery.

President Clinton would like to thank Dr. Mark Applebaum (ph) and Dr. Michael Collins who performed the procedure which is overseen by Dr. Craig Smith and President Clinton's cardiologist, Dr. Alan Schwartz. He's chief of cardiology at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and their daughter Chelsea are with him. They all want to thank New York Presbyterian Hospital Columbia, all of its doctors, nurses and staff for taking great care of him. He looks forward to getting back to the work of his foundation here in America and around the world. The Clintons are grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support from everyone. Again, here in America and around the world.

And now I'm going to introduce to you Dr. Alan Schwartz, chief of cardiology at New York Presbyterian Hospital, who's going to make a brief statement and take a few of your questions. Thank you.

DR. ALAN SCHWARTZ, BILL CLINTON'S CARDIOLOGIST: Today, President Clinton came to see me because over the past several days he had been having episodes of chest discomfort that were brief in nature but because they were repetitive he contacted me and came in. On the basis of his symptoms which were occurring at rest, it was decided to admit him to the hospital and perform angiography. His initial test, electrocardiogram and blood test showed no evidence of heart attack. Again, I repeat, he did not have a heart attack or any damage to his heart.

The pictures were taken of the arteries that supply blood to the heart and of the four bypass grafts that he had six years ago, one of the bypass grafts was completely blocked and because of that, and the fact that he was having repetitive symptoms at rest, he was treated with two stents that were placed into his own coronary artery. That is the artery that had been supplied previously by this bypass graft was open by the placement of two stents, more metal scaffolds that hold the artery open.

The procedure went very smoothly. President Clinton has since been up and walking around and visiting with his family. He's in good spirits, and we hope to have him go home tomorrow.

BARNES: We'll open it up now. One at a time, guys. Right over here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Schwartz, was the former president's life ever threatened in this whole episode?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. So does this mean he's (INAUDIBLE)

SCHWARTZ: I don't consider any procedure routine. These are high-skilled procedures and you're dealing with the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. So these are high-skilled procedures. That's a serious business. However, both due to the skill of the operators and the perfection of the technologies they can be done at extremely low risk. And I would not describe this at all as a high- risk procedure.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Schwartz, can you tell us the brand of the stent that was put in --

SCHWARTZ: I won't comment on brands.

BARNES: Right over there.

SCHWARTZ: So I would like to say that the goal of the treatment, and I think it will be achieved, is for President Clinton to resume his very active lifestyle. This was not a result of either his lifestyle or his diet which have been excellent. His exercise -- excellent condition as evidence both by what he does and by objective testing with stress testing.

His cholesterol numbers have, and other risk factors that we follow, have all been excellent. This is part of the natural history, just as illnesses have natural history, treatments have natural histories. And this particular type of bypass graft has about a 10 to 20 percent failure rate at five to six years.


SCHWARTZ: No, it makes him less susceptible to future heart attacks since. This graft is gone. The stents have opened the vessel, and the primary driver for his heart surgery was not this blood vessel. The primary driver for his heart surgery was the main artery in the front of the heart. And the bypass of that artery is what conveys the longevity benefit of bypass. That's what's called a left internal mammary artery bypass. That artery, that bypass looked pristine. And we know from multiple studies that if that bypass is opened at this point after the surgery, it will remain open.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is the prognosis going forward after this?

SCHWARTZ: His prognosis is excellent.


SCHWARTZ: I think this is like high blood pressure. Say, this is a chronic condition. We don't have a cure for this condition, however we have excellent treatments that involve lifestyle modification, medications, and occasionally when necessary, procedures. Also President Clinton responded appropriately and promptly to warning symptoms that had been discussed with him on numerous occasions in the past.

BARNES: We'll take a couple more.


SCHWARTZ: Again, the mammary -- without getting too technical, the grafts are of different kinds. This -- so the graft to the main blood vessel on the front of the heart is what's called a left internal mammary artery graft is not prone to this type of blockage.

BARNES: One at a time. Take this one.


I didn't say chest pains. He had some vague chest discomfort that when it became repetitive, he recognized that it might be a problem with his heart and that's when he consulted me and that's when we acted. So --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were they ever chest pains?

SCHWARTZ: I'd like to keep using the word discomfort because that's what he felt. And also just educationally, often heart symptoms are not pains. They can be pressures, they can be constrictions. In his case, he felt sort of a pressure or constriction.

I'm sorry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When can he resume --

SCHWARTZ: He is back on his feet.


SCHWARTZ: So I told him he could be back in the office on Monday. Back in the office on Monday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you call it a wake-up call?

SCHWARTZ: No, I wouldn't call it a wake-up call. The wake-up call happened in 2004. Again, he has really towed the line in terms of both diet and exercise. He's followed an excellent program. This particular complication is not hardening of the arteries. This sort of graft failure is the -- the history, excuse me, the history of this type of treatment that is not related to anything he did.

BARNES: It's cold out here. One more for the doctor.

SCHWARTZ: The circumflex.

The procedure, it took on the order of an hour and he -- he was able to get up about two hours afterwards.

BARNES: Thank you, guys. Thank you.