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President Ford's angioplasty a success, spokeswoman says

MINNEAPOLIS -- Gerald Ford underwent his second heart procedure in a week at the Mayo Clinic when stents were placed into two of his coronary arteries to increase blood flow, his spokeswoman said yesterday.

The angioplasty on the 93-year-old former president was successful, and he was resting comfortably in his room at the hospital in Rochester, spokeswoman Penny Circle said in a statement.

On Monday, doctors at the clinic had fitted Ford with an implantable pacemaker to regulate his heartbeat.

Mayo Clinic spokesman John Murphy confirmed the procedure, but would not comment further. ``No further releases or updates are anticipated for several days," he said.

About 600,000 angioplasties are done each year in the United States.

Through an artery in the leg, doctors snake a tube to blockages that are clogging vessels and preventing them from supplying enough blood to the heart. A balloon opens the vessel, and a mesh stent is left behind to prop the artery open.

The spokeswoman's description of the procedure suggests ``that a substantial part of the muscle of the heart is not receiving adequate blood flow," said Dr. Carl J. Pepine, a former president of the American College of Cardiology and chief of the division of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

``The stents can be deployed in elderly people very safely, with results that are generally as favorable as they are in younger people," Pepine said.

Ford became the nation's oldest living former president after the death of Ronald Reagan in 2004.

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