In this April 25, 2013, photo, former President George W. Bush speaks during the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. Bush has successfully undergone a heart procedure after doctors discovered a blockage in an artery.

George W. Bush 'In High Spirits' After Heart Surgery

Bush encourages regular checkups after surprise stent operation.

In this April 25, 2013, photo, former President George W. Bush speaks during the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. Bush has successfully undergone a heart procedure after doctors discovered a blockage in an artery.

Former President George W. Bush speaks during the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, April 25, 2013.

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Former President George W. Bush underwent heart surgery to open a blocked artery Tuesday morning at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

Bush, 67, is known for his athleticism and the news came as a surprise. Just two months ago, Bush led a three-day 100-kilometer mountain bike ride for veterans over difficult terrain on his Crawford ranch.

"During President George W. Bush's annual physical examination at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas yesterday, a blockage was discovered in an artery in his heart," Bush aide Freddy Ford said in a Tuesday statement.

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"At the recommendation of his doctors, President Bush agreed to have a stent placed to open the blockage," the statement said. "The procedure was performed successfully this morning, without complication."

A stent is "a tiny tube placed into an artery, blood vessel, or other hollow structure... to hold it open," according to a definition posted to the National Institutes of Health's MedlinePlus website.

Bush has largely avoided the public spotlight since leaving office in January 2009. His memoir "Decision Points" was released in November 2010, but for much of President Barack Obama's first term Bush rarely made public appearances and declined to critique his successor.

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This year, however, Bush reemerged in the public eye for the April 25 dedication of his presidential library – located at Southern Methodist University in Dallas – and in early July the Bushes joined with the Obamas in Tanzania for a wreath-laying ceremony at the location of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombing there.

"President Bush is in high spirits, eager to return home tomorrow and resume his normal schedule on Thursday," Ford's statement said. "He is grateful to the skilled medical professionals who have cared for him. He thanks his family, friends, and fellow citizens for their prayers and well wishes. And he encourages us all to get our regular checkups."

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