Former U.S. president Bill Clinton had a procedure to put two stents in one of his coronary arteries Thursday in New York City after he suffered chest pains. ((Associated Press))

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton underwent a procedure to put two stents in one of his coronary arteries Thursday after being hospitalized with chest pains.

Clinton was admitted to the Columbia Campus of New York Presbyterian Hospital "after feeling discomfort in his chest," according to a statement issued by Douglas Band, Clinton's lawyer.

What is a stent?

Stents are tiny mesh scaffolds used to prop open an artery after it is unclogged in an angioplasty procedure. Doctors thread a tube through a blood vessel in the groin to a blocked artery, inflate a balloon to flatten the clog, and slide the stent into place.

From the American Heart Association

"Following a visit  to his cardiologist, he underwent a procedure to place two stents in one of his coronary arteries," the statement said. "President Clinton is in good spirits and will continue to focus on the work of his foundation and Haiti's relief and long-term recovery efforts."

Since leaving office, Clinton has maintained a busy schedule working on humanitarian projects through the aid foundation he created. In recent weeks, he has been helping relief efforts in Haiti.

In 2004, Clinton had heart bypass surgery to open four blocked arteries, some squeezed almost completely shut. With bypass or angioplasty, patients often need another procedure years down the road because arteries often get clogged again.

Before his bypass surgery, Clinton had a reputation for being an unhealthy eater. As a newly minted presidential candidate in 1992, he took reporters on jogs to McDonald's.

Clinton's wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left Washington, D.C., headed to New York City to be with her husband Thursday after meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House ahead of her planned trip to Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Aides to the secretary of state said she still plans to go ahead with a previously scheduled trip to the Persian Gulf. The trip was to begin Friday afternoon, but now she is planning to leave Saturday so that she doesn't have to rush back to Washington.