WASHINGTON — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a heart stent implanted Wednesday to clear a blocked coronary artery, court officials said.

The 81-year-old justice had the procedure at MedStar Washington Hospital Center after the blockage to her right coronary artery was discovered, court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.

Arberg said Ginsburg had some discomfort Tuesday night during routine exercise and was taken to the hospital. The justice is expected to leave the hospital within the next 48 hours.

Ginsburg has for years been fending off questions about whether she should leave the court, brought on in part by her health. She had colon cancer in 1999, pancreatic cancer in 2009 and has suffered broken ribs. Still, she has not missed any time on the job.

She has served on the court since appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

Stents are mesh scaffoldings inserted into about half a million people in the U.S. each year to prop open arteries clogged by years of cholesterol buildup. Doctors guide a narrow tube through a blood vessel in the groin or an arm, inflate a tiny balloon to flatten the blockage, and then push the stent into place.

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