Home » Latest World News, USA » Former president George H.W. Bush hospitalized

georgehw_bush_apFormer president George H.W. Bush was taken to the Houston Methodist Hospital Tuesday in an ambulance after he began to experience shortness of breath, his staff said in a statement.

“President Bush was taken by ambulance to the Houston Methodist Hospital as a precaution after experiencing a shortness of breath earlier this evening,” the statement said. “The former president, age 90, will be held for observation, again as a precaution.”

Bush is the oldest living former president and vice president. He is also the last living former president who is a veteran of World War II, during which he served as a naval aviator and was shot down over the Pacific.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz said President Obama had been notified.

“The president has been made aware that President Bush was admitted to the hospital,” Schultz said. “President Obama and the first lady send their good wishes to the former president and the entire Bush family during this holiday season.”

Jim McGrath, a spokesman for Bush, said on Twitter that the former president had been taken to Houston’s Methodist Hospital as “a precaution after experiencing shortness of breath.”

McGrath said Bush would be held there for “observation.”

Bush spent nearly two months in the same hospital and was discharged in January 2013, after treatment for a bronchitis-related cough and other health issues.

The former president suffers from a form of Parkinson’s disease and now uses a wheelchair or a motorized scooter. He most recently appeared seated in a wheelchair at an event in November at Texas A&M University with his son, former president George W. Bush.

Dr. Rita Coram, director of the University of Louisville’s Coronary Care Unit and Chest Pain Center, said shortness of breath could signal several problems in people Bush’s age.

“Shortness of breath all of a sudden like this usually is the lungs and not the heart,” Coram said.

She said it’s very possible Bush has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, which is more common among smokers but strikes non-smokers as well, particularly the aged. COPD can be exacerbated by flu or any of the other viruses circulating this time of year, she said.

“At his age,” she said, “his lung reserve is likely compromised.”

She said shortness of breath could also be the flu, which “is not good because it could kill.” But an exacerbation of COPDwithout the flu may be successfully treated with a nebulizer, she said.

Coram said shortness of breath can also be related to a cardiac problem, and one possibility is congestive heart failure. If the heart is no longer an efficient pump, she said, a patient can develop pulmonary edema, in which excess fluid builds up in the lungs. Although she doesn’t know whether George H.W. Bush has heart disease, she pointed out that Bush’s son, George W. Bush, suffered from a blocked heart artery and underwent surgery last year to place a stent.

In June, the elder Bush celebrated his 90th birthday by making a tandem parachute jump near his summer home in Maine.

Coram said she’s encouraged by the elder Bush’s parachute jump earlier this year. Unless he went against doctor’s orders, she said he must have been considered healthy enough for the jump at the time. She also praised the reputation of the hospital where Bush was taken.

“The Houston hospital there is first class,” she said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s very, very well taken care of and will make it.”

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