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Cheney leaves the hospital after tests

Vice President Dick Cheney went to a hospital Saturday after experiencing shortness of breath. Two tests found no abnormalities, an aide said, and Cheney left after three hours.
/ Source: news services

Vice President Dick Cheney, who has a history of heart trouble, went to a hospital Saturday after experiencing shortness of breath. Two tests found no abnormalities, an aide said, and Cheney left after three hours.

"I feel fine," the 63-year-old vice president said as he left with his wife, Lynne.

Cheney, 63, who has had four heart attacks, returned Thursday night from a pheasant hunting trip in South Dakota with a cold that left him short of breath, spokeswoman Mary Matalin said. He joined President Bush on Friday for meetings with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Matalin said the pacemaker implanted in Cheney’s chest three years ago indicated no abnormalities over the past 90 days and that an electrocardiogram showed no change. An EKG measure the heart’s electrical activity.

She said the vice president felt fine otherwise, but that as a precaution and given his health history, his cardiologist, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, recommended that Cheney go to George Washington University Hospital for tests to make sure it was just a cold.

“He was doing this just as a precaution,” Matalin said.

Cheney did not attend a Saturday evening party at the British Embassy for national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, a senior Bush administration official told NBC News. President Bush, first lady Laura Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell still attended the event, NBC reported.

The president was notified by his chief of staff, Andy Card, shortly after Bush returned from a bike ride Saturday at a Secret Service training facility outside Washington, White House spokesman Ken Lisaius said.

The 63-year-old Cheney has had four heart attacks, although none as vice president. He kept up a heavy travel schedule during Bush’s re-election campaign, often traveling with his wife, Lynne Cheney.

Lisaius said Cheney was taking every precaution “as anyone with his history should do” and was having himself checked out.

In June 2001, Cheney had a pacemaker implanted. At his annual heart checkup on May 11, doctors determined that the pacemaker, called an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, was working fine and had never had had to assist his heart.

The device is designed to activate automatically if needed to regulate the patient’s heartbeat.

Ahead of the fall presidential campaign, Cheney dismissed speculation that his health might keep him from running again with Bush. He said his health had been good and that he could not think of any circumstances that would prompt to decline the role.

His first heart attack occurred in 1978, when he was 37. He had a second in 1984, and after suffering his third heart attack, in 1988, Cheney had quadruple bypass surgery to clear clogged arteries.

On Nov. 22, 2000, Cheney suffered what doctors called a “very slight” heart attack and had an angioplasty to open a clogged artery.

Cheney was back in the hospital on March 5, 2001, after complaining of chest pains. Doctors performed another angioplasty to reopen the same artery.

After his fourth heart attack, Cheney quit smoking, began regular daily exercises for 30 minutes on a treadmill and said he began watching his diet. He takes medication to lower his cholesterol.

Cheney has a long Washington history, dating from his 1975 job as President Ford’s 34-year-old chief of staff.

After Ford lost the presidency, Cheney returned to Wyoming and began running for the state’s only seat in the House of Representatives. He had his first heart attack during the campaign but still won easily.