By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Vice President Cheney is being treated for a blood clot that his doctor discovered in his left leg, his office announced yesterday.
Cheney's doctor at George Washington University discovered the clot during an examination yesterday after the vice president experienced mild discomfort in his calf, spokeswoman Megan McGinn said. The doctor prescribed blood-thinning medication, which Cheney is to take for several months, she said.
Cheney, who may have developed the clot during a recent trip to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Australia and elsewhere that involved extensive air travel, saw his doctor after delivering a speech yesterday morning to the national legislative conference of the Veterans of Foreign War. He then returned to the White House and continued to work.
"He's right here now working," McGinn said. "He's fine."
Cheney, 66, has a long history of heart problems. He has suffered four heart attacks and has had quadruple bypass surgery, two artery-clearing angioplasties and an operation to install a pacemaker.
Cheney, who became vice president in 2001, had his last heart attack, which doctors described as slight, in 2000. He was hobbled briefly in late 2005 after having surgery to repair aneurysms behind each of his knees.
The kind of blood clot Cheney developed is known as a deep venous thrombosis, which forms in a vein deep in the body. Most deep vein clots occur in the lower leg or thigh.
Sitting for long periods of time, such as on long plane flights, can increase the risk of such clots. Cheney returned last week from his trip.
"He spent over 60 hours in the air," McGinn said.
A clot that breaks off and travels through the bloodstream can cause a deadly pulmonary embolism by lodging in a lung, a heart attack by lodging in the heart or a stroke by traveling to the brain.
A blood clot in the thigh is usually more likely to break off and cause a pulmonary embolism than a clot in the lower leg or another part of the body, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Staff writer Michael Abramowitz contributed to this report.