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Former President George W. Bush has stent for blocked heart artery

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DALLAS (Reuters) - Former President George W. Bush underwent successful surgery at a Dallas hospital on Tuesday to place a stent in a blocked heart artery, a spokesman said.

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Bush, 67, was "in high spirits, eager to return home tomorrow and resume his normal schedule on Thursday," spokesman Freddy Ford said in a statement.

Doctors discovered the blockage on Monday during Bush's annual physical exam at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, the statement said. Doctors recommended a stent to open the blockage and he underwent surgery on Tuesday morning at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, the statement said.

Bush was known as a fitness enthusiast during his two terms in the White House, from 2001 to 2009, and liked to run before knee pain led him to do more bicycling.

Bush, whose father, George H.W. Bush, served as president from 1989 to 1993, left office in January 2009 with low public approval ratings due to the U.S. financial crisis at the end of his second term and the unpopular war in Iraq. But a Gallup poll in June showed 49 percent of respondents viewed him favorably versus 46 percent unfavorably, the first time since 2005 that opinions of him were more positive than negative.

Bush was in Africa in July, joining his successor, Barack Obama, in Tanzania at a ceremony marking the 15 anniversary of an al Qaeda attack on the U.S. Embassy there that killed 10 Tanzanians and injured 85 Americans and Tanzanians.

Bush and his wife, Laura, helped renovate a clinic in Zambia on their African trip.

(Reporting by Jim Forsyth in San Antonio and Karen Brooks in Dallas; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Bill Trott)

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