Dec 2, 2012 9:00 AM by By Steven Reinberg
SUNDAY, Dec. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Former President George Herbert Walker Bush, who has been struggling with bronchitis and a lingering cough, was expected to stay in a Houston hospital through the weekend.
Initially, it was reported that the 88-year-old Bush was improving and should be released from The Methodist Hospital by the weekend.
However, a lingering cough led doctors to decide to keep him there through the weekend, the Associated Press reported Saturday.
Bush spokesman Jim McGrath said "he still has the cough and we're now not expecting him to be discharged this weekend."
McGrath added that doctors are "going to play it safe there for obvious reasons."
Bush, who was president from 1989 to 1993, and is the father of former President George W. Bush, has been in the hospital several times recently for treatment of bronchitis, the AP reported.
The doctor in charge of his care, Dr. Amy Myunderse, said the elder Bush's condition was never life-threatening.
"Anytime someone the president's age has bronchitis, there's concern about possible pneumonia," Myunderse said. "But Mr. Bush's condition never progressed to that level."
Dr. Sumita Khatri, a pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, said that as "someone gets older they are at more risk of getting chronic medical problems."
Khatri, who is not involved in Bush's care, added that, "these problems increase the likelihood of getting infections like bronchitis. This can lead to pneumonia if it's bacterial."
Pneumonia is a much more serious condition, which is fatal in many elderly people.
Khatri noted that Bush suffers from Parkinson's disease, which is a neurological problem that can effect muscle tone, including in the muscles in respiratory system.
Bush's condition appears not to be one that can be treated at home, which is why he is in the hospital where there is care and monitoring round the clock. Doctors want to see that the condition is "turning the corner and not progressing to the lower lungs and becoming pneumonia," Khatri said.
Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, added that "one thing people need to know is that over the age of 65 people should get a pneumonia vaccination."
For more on bronchitis, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.