NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 6/27/2010 6:18:19 PM ET 2010-06-27T22:18:19

One of Dick Cheney's daughters says the hospitalized former vice president could go home on Monday after receiving medication to treat a fluid buildup related to his aggressive form of heart disease.

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The 69-year-old, who has had five heart attacks, was admitted to George Washington University Hospital on Friday after experiencing discomfort. His last heart attack — described as a mild one — was in February.

Liz Cheney told "Fox News Sunday" that her father is feeling better and hopes to be released on Monday.

Cheney's office said Cheney has received intravenous medication and that he's "markedly improved."

Cheney did not have chest pains or a heart attack, NBC reported on Saturday.

NBC, quoting a source close to the vice president, reported that a couple of weeks ago, Cheney suffered atrial fibrillation and flew back to Washington from Wyoming.

He sustained his last heart attack, deemed a mild one, in February. It was his fifth since age 37. A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart muscle is blocked. In that episode in February, Cheney underwent a stress test and a heart catheterization.

A face of his party for decades, Cheney has remained a prominent voice of opposition to the Obama administration. His public career spanned decades, including service as a lawmaker, defense secretary and White House chief of staff.

Cheney had bypass surgery in 1988, as well as two later angioplasties to clear narrowed coronary arteries.

In 2001, he had a special pacemaker implanted in his chest. In addition, doctors in 2008 restored a normal rhythm to his heart with an electric shock. It was the second time in less than a year that Cheney had experienced and been treated for an atrial fibrillation, an abnormal rhythm involving the upper chambers of the heart.

NBC News' Jamie Gangel and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Doctor explains Cheney’s fluid ailment

  1. Transcript of: Doctor explains Cheney’s fluid ailment

    HOLT: Mike Viqueira this morning, thanks. Dr. Sung Lee is a cardiologist who implanted a device in Dick Cheney to regulate his heartbeat nine years ago. He joins us from Washington . Dr. Lee , good morning. Thanks so much for joining us. Dr. SUNG LEE (Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology Washington Adventist Hospital ): Good morning.

    HOLT: Explain the terminology, progressive retention of fluid. In layman's terms, what does that mean?

    Dr. LEE: Well the progressive retention of fluid means the heart is not working well enough, and fluid is actually backing up into the tissues, and you're getting congestion of the tissues.

    HOLT: Congestion. Is that the same as we hear the term " congestive heart failure ," the same thing?

    Dr. LEE: It's very similar. In a way it is the same thing. Congestive heart failure can mean many things. Congestive heart failure is a chronic illness that happens in people with weakened heart muscle .

    HOLT: And how easily is it treated?

    Dr. LEE: Well, the congestive heart failure is a chronic illness, and there will -- at times will have exacerbation of congestive heart failure , and when somebody has congestive heart failure main medications we use is diuretics, intravenous diuretics.

    HOLT: Doctor, in the case of the ex -vice president, you're looking at a patient who's had five heart attacks , he's had bypass surgery, angioplasty, a pacemaker, a couple of episodes of atrial fibrillation ; what's the next level of treatment for a patient with that kind of history?

    Dr. LEE: Well, he actually has done very well, considering that he had many heart attacks , and he has had weakened heart muscle . The -- in general, patients with a congestive heart failure can be treated very well with the medications.

    HOLT: And what kind of symptoms would he have been experiencing before this last episode? What would he have been feeling?

    Dr. LEE: He had two heart issues going on. One was atrial fibrillation , which is a rapid heart -- racing of the heart, and fluid retention , which is the heart failure . So symptoms he will feel is shortness of breath, fatigue, difficulty in lying down, and sometimes they will feel heart racing sensation. Now, if the heart is racing fast enough in somebody who has a coronary artery disease, they may also feel chest pain.

    HOLT: All right, and now, assuming he gets out of the hospital as anticipated, does he pick up a normal schedule right away?

    Dr. LEE: Absolutely. The -- as long as -- if somebody has exacerbation of heart failure , the main -- the most important thing is find a trigger, what triggered this particular event. And it sounds like if he had atrial fibrillation , certainly atrial fibrillation can trigger and exacerbate the heart failure , and once we control atrial fibrillation and once we control the -- control fluid retention , he should be able to go back to his normal, active lifestyle.

    HOLT: All right. Dr. Sung Lee , we appreciate you spending time with us this morning. Thank you so much .

    Dr. LEE: Thank you so much .