By Corrie MacLaggan
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush was released from a Houston hospital on Monday after more than seven weeks of treatment for bronchitis and related ailments, according to a statement issued by a family spokesman.
"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," Dr. Amy Mynderse, the doctor in charge of Bush's care, said in the statement, issued by Bush spokesman Jim McGrath.
Bush said in the statement that he was grateful to the "wonderful" doctors and nurses who took care of him.
"Let me add just how touched we were by the many get-well messages we received from our friends and fellow Americans," the former president said. "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."
The 41st U.S. president, 88, was admitted to Methodist Hospital on November 23 for bronchitis and then transferred to intensive care in December after coming down with a persistent fever and other complications. He was moved to a regular patient room after his condition improved last month.
A spokesman for President Barack Obama - the nation's 44th president - posted on Twitter Monday that Bush's discharge was "great news."
"From 44 down, we all are relieved he's out of the hospital and wish him & his family well," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney wrote.
Bush, a Republican, took office in 1989 and served one term in the White House. The father of former President George W. Bush, he also served as a congressman, U.N. ambassador, envoy to China, CIA director and vice president for two terms under Ronald Reagan.
As president, Bush routed Iraq after former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990. His public approval ratings soared, but just 20 months later he was defeated in his re-election bid by Democrat Bill Clinton.
Until recently, Bush was known for an active lifestyle. He went skydiving to celebrate his 75th, 80th and 85th birthdays.
He met with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev late last year in Houston. In March 2012, Bush formally endorsed Republican Mitt Romney for president.
(Reporting By Corrie MacLaggan; Editing by Greg McCune, Jim Marshall, John Wallace and Steve Orlofsky)