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Cheney to Undergo 'Routine' Heart Exam

September 13, 2002|JAMES GERSTENZANG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — Vice President Dick Cheney, who last month said he had no complaints about his health, is returning to a Washington area hospital today for what his office called a routine checkup.

Cheney, 61, has a history of serious heart problems and schedules examinations twice a year. It has been seven months since the vice president had his most recent physical.

Mary Matalin, the vice president's counselor, said Cheney would undergo a "routine, semiannual cardiovascular checkup." The exam includes an electrocardiogram and an echocardiogram, which uses sound waves to check the health of the vascular system.

Doctors implanted a sophisticated pacemaker and a defibrillator in his chest in June 2001. The equipment is intended to automatically correct abnormally rapid heartbeats, which can be fatal, and also speed up the heartbeat if it is too slow.

During the exam, which the vice president's office said would be noninvasive, doctors scan the pacemaker to determine whether it is functioning properly and to see if it has been activated.

At his most recent checkup, in February, an aide said that the device had not had to treat any episode of arrhythmia.

Since then, Cheney has completed a strenuous trip to the Middle East and Persian Gulf that lasted nearly two weeks, and has been actively campaigning for Republican candidates.

In recent days, he has spent time at a secure, undisclosed location to protect him in the event of an attack coinciding with the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Speaking in August in San Francisco, he delivered an upbeat report--of his physical and political health. He said he was willing to run for a second term in 2004--"if the president's willing and if my wife approves and if the doctors say it's OK."

As for his medical situation, he said: "It's good. I don't have any complaints. I'm proof positive of the enormous value of the wonders of modern medical technology, and for that I'm very grateful. I've been able to pursue a full and active career, even though I have coronary artery disease."

Since 1978, Cheney has had four heart attacks. The most recent was in November 2000. He underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 1988.

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