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Cheney gets routine heart checkup

By Kelly Wallace
CNN White House Correspondent

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- United States Vice President Dick Cheney is undergoing what is characterized as a "routine" physical Friday morning to allow doctors to check the status of his heart pacemaker device.

It was implanted in his chest to electronically slow abnormal heart rhythms, a Cheney spokeswoman said.

The vice president's office has called it a "routine, semiannual cardiovascular checkup," which is to include a physical exam, an EKG, an echo cardiogram and a stress test, spokeswoman Jennifer Millerwise said.

Cheney is undergoing the tests at his doctor's office at the George Washington University Medical Center, Millerwise said. He's expected to return to his office at the White House following the examination.

The vice president's doctor is expected to check to ensure the pacemaker-defibrillator device is working as intended and to determine whether it has activated itself to adjust Cheney's heart beat, Millerwise said.

Cheney, who has had four heart attacks, had the device placed in his chest in June. Doctors prescribed the device after Cheney wore a heart monitor for 34 hours, during which it recorded four episodes of abnormally fast heartbeats.

The vice president talked about the device last month during an interview with CNN Senior White House Correspondent John King before the president's State of the Union address.

"It's a pacemaker/defibrillator combination," said Cheney. "It's never gone off, so I don't know what happens if it does go off. But it's worked very well. This is the wonders of modern technology to put that into your chest, under the skin of your chest, and it will run for eight years without a change in batteries."

He continued, "It's never kicked off. But it's an insurance policy. And for somebody like me with a history of coronary heart disease, you want to avail yourself of all the modern technology that's out there, and I've been extraordinarily fortunate that the technology is as good as it is."

The vice president was hospitalized in March to reopen a partially blocked artery. He suffered his last heart attack in November 2000.



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