Nightly News   |  October 14, 2013

Despite exercise, Bush’s artery was 95 percent blocked

Getting regular checkups is important — even for those who are already active and asymptomatic, such as former president George W. Bush. Exercise alone isn’t a guarantee against developing heart disease, and doctors need to make sure blood pressure, blood sugar and blood cholesterol are regularly monitored and checked. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> about the health of former president george w. bush . when news broke this past summer he had received a stent to unclog a blocked artery found during a routine physical exam , a lot of folks wondered openly whether or not he had been overtreated. well, tonight we know the answer is no. nbc news has confirmed a report in the national journal that the former president's heart problems were much more serious than previously reported, and he was, quote, very lucky that they caught it when they did. our report tonight from nbc 's andrea mitchell .

>> reporter: he was one of our most athletic presidents, working out in the white house gym, jogging.

>> sorry you can't join me!

>> reporter: and mountain biking both in and out of office. just this past memorial day weekend , leading wounded warriors on a 62-mile bike race in the texas heat at his crawford ranch .

>> mountain biking is awesome.

>> reporter: a month later he was in zambia on an african tour, all the while not knowing he was suffering from a silent killer, heart disease , until a routine physical in august just after he turned 67. mark mckinnon was riding with him in that bike race .

>> frankly, i was shocked because he is ten years older than i am, and in a three-hour mountain bike ride, he left me in the dust and i'm in pretty good shape.

>> reporter: what was described at the time as a routine procedure is a lot more serious. a coronary artery that was blocked before the stent to open it up. the lesson, other factors including years of unhealthy food choices can lead to heart disease . say doctors not involved in bush's care.

>> exercise is not a guarantee against developing heart disease . therefore, it's very important to keep in touch with our doctors to make sure our blood pressure , blood sugar , and blood cholesterol are regularly monitored and checked.

>> reporter: bill clinton jogged, but even he had quadruple coronary bypass surgery in 2004 , and two stents in one of his artery in 2010 . dick cheney , after decades of heart trouble , had a heart transplant last year. george w. bush has bounced back quickly after a surprising health scare. andrea mitchell , nbc news, washington.