Discuss as:

Former President George H.W. Bush released from hospital

Former President George H.W. Bush is now back at home after being treated for bronchitis and a persistent cough. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

Former President George H.W. Bush was released Monday from a Houston hospital after seven weeks of treatment for bronchitis, a bacterial infection and a persistent cough, the Bush family spokesman said.

Hospital officials said that Bush, 88, was discharged to his Houston home and would continue treatment.

"Mr. Bush has improved to the point that he will not need any special medication when he goes home, but he will continue physical therapy," said Dr. Amy Mynderse, the physician in charge of the former president's care.

Bush was admitted to the Methodist Hospital on Nov. 29, suffering from severe bronchitis.

After initial expectations that he would be hospitalized for just a few days turned out to be wrong, his office disclosed that he was in intensive care in December because physicians were having difficulty controlling a fever that developed after the cough was mostly resolved and were concerned about balancing his medication.

Last week, sources close to the former president indicated that his condition had improved. Visitors to Bush said he was in a good mood and joking with family members and hospital staff and that he was “looking forward to heading home.”

"I am deeply grateful for the wonderful doctors and nurses at Methodist who took such good care of me," the former President said. "Let me add just how touched we were by the many get-well messages we received from our friends and fellow Americans. Your prayers and good wishes helped more than you know, and as I head home my only concern is that I will not be able to thank each of you for your kind words."

Bush and his wife, Barbara, live in Houston during the winter and spend their summers at a home in Kennebunkport, Maine. On Jan. 6, they celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary. They are the longest-married presidential couple, and Bush is the nation's oldest living president.

Bronchitis is a common condition in which the bronchial tubes in the lungs become inflamed and produce mucus, which creates the need to cough, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can turn serious in people with weak immune systems, including children and the elderly. Symptoms such as chest pain, weakness and coughing typically last two weeks, but can linger for as long as two months.

Bush was elected president of the United States in 1988, the capstone of a long career of public service.

He was a Texas Republican member of the House of Representatives in the 1960s and 1970s and head of the CIA in 1976-1977. The organization’s headquarters in Langley, Va., was later renamed the “George Bush Center for Intelligence.”

Bush lost his first bid for the Republican nomination for the U.S. presidency in 1980, at which time Ronald Reagan chose him to be his running mate. He went on to serve two terms as Reagan’s vice president before winning the presidency. He was defeated for re-election in 1992 by Bill Clinton.

In late 2004, Bush teamed up with Clinton to raise money for the victims of the Asian tsunami. That effort was so successful, the two former presidents did the same for Katrina victims in 2005.


Robert Sullivan / AFP - Getty Images

Leader of an American political dynasty, George Bush's influence was felt beyond his terms as president and vice president. Take a look back at his life and career.