Former vice president Dick Cheney has pump implanted in his heart

By Michael D. Shear and David Brown
Thursday, July 15, 2010

Former vice president Richard B. Cheney, who has long suffered from cardiac issues, underwent surgery last week to have a pump implanted in his heart, he announced Wednesday.

The left ventricular assist device is a more modest version of the "artificial heart" that physicians have used for more than 25 years, without much success, to save people whose hearts are weakened by disease. The mechanism aids in pumping blood through the body.

Cheney, 69, has had five heart attacks, the first coming when he was just 37 years old. His statement Wednesday was his most direct comment in years about his health.

"A few weeks ago, . . . I began to experience increasing congestive heart failure," he said. "After a series of recent tests and discussions with my doctors, I decided to take advantage of one of the new technologies available."

The major hazards of the device are mechanical failure and the possibility of blood clotting inside the pump, which could lead to a stroke.

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