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Cheney leaves hospital after 'mild' heart attack

Former Vice President Dick Cheney left a Washington hospital on Wednesday following a heart attack he suffered earlier in the week.
Image: File photo of former US Vice President Cheney speaking about national security at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington
Former Vice President Dick Cheney's public career has spanned decades, including service as a lawmaker, a defense secretary and a White House chief of staff. JOSHUA ROBERTS / Reuters
/ Source: The Associated Press

Former Vice President Dick Cheney left a Washington hospital on Wednesday following a heart attack he suffered earlier in the week.

Spokesman Peter Long said Cheney was feeling good. "He will resume his normal schedule shortly," Long said of Cheney, who has remained an active player in Republican politics.

The 69-year-old Cheney was hospitalized Monday after experiencing chest pains.

Aides say the heart attack was mild. It was his fifth since age 37, and he has undergone several heart procedures since.

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart muscle is blocked.

Surviving five heart attacks makes Cheney unusual, showing that he has good medical care as well as a particularly aggressive form of heart disease.

Living with the disease
Those close to Cheney say he has grown adjusted to living with the disease, with help from his family.

The vice president is a prominent critic of President Barack Obama's administration and remains one of the most prominent voices in the Republican Party, choosing to stay in the spotlight while former President George W. Bush has not.

The news came just more than a week after Cheney and Vice President Joe Biden essentially dueled each across different Sunday television talk shows, bickering over national security, credit for success in Iraq and Iran's nuclear program.

Even more recently, Cheney made a surprise appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference, delighting the partisan crowd with statements like, "I think Barack Obama is a one-term president."

Biden called Cheney on Tuesday to wish him well, as did Cheney's old boss, former President George W. Bush.

Pacemaker implanted
Cheney had bypass surgery in 1988, as well as two later angioplasties to clear narrowed coronary arteries, and bypasses tend to last about a decade before the rerouted blood vessels start to clog.

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.