HOUSTON — Former President George H.W. Bush was “responding and recovering” to treatment at a Houston hospital on Tuesday for an infection that had spread to his blood, according to a family spokesman.
Bush has been hospitalized since Sunday, a day after attending the funeral of his wife, Barbara, who died last week at age 92. The couple was married 73 years, longer than any other U.S. presidential couple.
In a brief post on Twitter, family spokesman Jim McGrath said he could “happily” echo his report from Monday that the 93-year-old former president was “responding to treatments and appears to be recovering.”
George H.W. Bush had used a wheelchair and an electric scooter for mobility since developing a form of Parkinson’s disease, and he has needed hospital treatment several times in recent years for respiratory problems and other infections.
McGrath wouldn’t elaborate Tuesday on the specifics of Bush’s condition, saying only that he would issue updates “when we have something to update.” Late Monday, McGrath described Bush as eager to get well so he could get to his summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine.
“He’s the most goal-oriented person on this planet,” McGrath said. “I wouldn’t bet against him.”
A year ago this month, the nation’s 41st president spent two weeks in the hospital for treatment of pneumonia and chronic bronchitis, a constant irritation of the lining of tubes that carry air to one’s lungs. His doctors said chronic bronchitis is a condition more prevalent with age and can aggravate the symptoms of pneumonia. Bush was also hospitalized, for 16 days, in January 2017 for pneumonia. During that hospital stay, which included time in intensive care, doctors inserted a breathing tube and connected him to a ventilator.
He was hospitalized in 2015 in Maine after falling at home and breaking a bone in his neck. In December 2014, he was hospitalized for about a week for shortness of breath, and he spent Christmas 2012 in intensive care for a bronchitis-related cough and other issues.
People in their 90s with Parkinson’s disease are often at higher risk of pneumonia and other infections because their swallowing process can be compromised, said Dr. David Reuben, a professor of geriatric medicine at the UCLA medical school in Los Angeles.
“And the stress of losing a loved one can weaken the immune system,” he said.
Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics, he said, while viral infections require other treatments. Infections that spread to the blood usually are not viral, however, he said.
The prognosis for such a case would depend on several factors, including heart rate, blood pressure and oxygenation, Reuben said.
“The more of these parameters are abnormal, the more serious the case is,” he said.
George H. W. Bush served as president from 1989 to 1993. Born on June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts, Bush also served as a Texas congressman, CIA director and Ronald Reagan’s vice president.