Cheney has slight heart attack

By MARLENE CIMONS

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — Dick Cheney, the Republican vice presidential nominee, suffered what physicians described as a "very slight" heart attack Wednesday and underwent surgery to improve blood flow to his heart, providing yet another breath-catching twist in the political tumult that has been churning since the election.

Initially, doctors and George W. Bush declared that Cheney, 59 — who has a history of heart trouble — did not have a heart attack. But doctors revised their diagnosis after a later set of blood tests indicated a "minimally elevated level" in heart muscle enzymes. The presence of these enzymes indicates heart muscle damage — a heart attack.

In a brief telephone interview on CNN’s "Larry King Live" Wednesday night, Cheney said, "I feel good and everything’s looking good." He said taking the precaution of going to the hospital at the first sign of trouble "is one of the things that I’ve learned over the years. Anything that might be cardiac-related, you have to check it out. … That’s good advice for everybody."

Cheney’s health was the focus of much attention when Bush selected him last summer to be his running mate. At that time, Cheney had suffered three heart attacks, the first at age 37. He underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 1988.

On Wednesday, in explaining the change in their earlier diagnosis, doctors stressed that the definition of heart attack was changed last year by the American Heart Association to reflect "any enzyme elevation" measured in the blood.

"Over a year ago, this amount of enzyme elevation would not have been considered by most people signs of a heart attack," said Dr. Alan Wasserman, professor of cardiology at George Washington University Hospital, where Cheney — experiencing chest discomfort — checked himself in before dawn Wednesday.

"To put this into some perspective, in someone that has had a significant heart attack, the levels would be somewhere 20 to 50 times higher," Wasserman said.

On Wednesday, physicians performed a cardiac catheterization, inserting a permanent stent — a tiny scaffolding-like device — to widen a narrowed artery.

The Bush camp sought to downplay the potentially serious nature of Cheney’s hospitalization, putting a positive face on his condition and his prognosis and initially insisting — based on doctors’ views early in the day — that Cheney had not suffered a heart attack.

Bush, speaking to reporters in Austin, Texas, said, "We had a very good conversation. He sounded really strong. Secretary Cheney will make a great vice president … and America is beginning to see how steady and strong he is."

"Dick Cheney is healthy," he said. "He did the right thing. … Anybody who’s had heart conditions will tell you if there’s any signs, any warning signs at all, it’s important to have it checked out, and that’s what he’s done."

Bush and his aides dismissed questions about the stability of the GOP team, and whether they were considering alternatives should Cheney’s condition keep him from serving.

Asked whether it would be prudent to have a backup nominee, Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes replied, "No, it’s not." She added that Cheney has had similar pains in recent years, but not since Bush picked him to be his running mate.

Doctors at the hospital said they did not believe that stress related to post-Election Day events contributed to Cheney’s heart attack — although stress is a known risk factor in heart disease. Cheney’s heart attack apparently occurred hours after Florida’s Supreme Court decided to permit manual ballot recounts in some Florida counties, a key victory for Gore.

Cheney, in the CNN interview, said he had "not found the last couple of weeks as stressful as, say, the Gulf War. … My time in the Pentagon during the Gulf War was far more stressful."

He said that his recent hospitalization should not affect his ability to serve as vice president. "There shouldn’t be any problems of any kind like that. Obviously, I always follow my doctor’s advice. … (There’s) no doubt about my serving. All we have to do is get elected."

Cheney’s doctors gave him a clean bill of health when Bush picked him. Still, there was speculation in an already chaotic situation over what would happen if Cheney had to drop off the ticket before the electoral college meets.

If Bush were president-elect, experts said, electors would be free to vote for another Bush choice, since they vote for president and vice president separately.

If Cheney drops out before the resolution of the election, Bush would be free to select a new running mate, and the Republican National Committee would likely gather to ratify his choice.

If the two already were sworn in, and Cheney died or quit, Bush would nominate a successor, who would have to be confirmed by the Senate and the House.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Traffic idles while waiting for the lights to change along 33rd Avenue West on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lynnwood seeks solutions to Costco traffic boondoggle

Let’s take a look at the troublesome intersection of 33rd Avenue W and 30th Place W, as Lynnwood weighs options for better traffic flow.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Death of Everett boy, 4, spurs questions over lack of Amber Alert

Local police and court authorities were reluctant to address some key questions, when asked by a Daily Herald reporter this week.

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20210708
Frito-Lay leases massive building at Marysville business park

The company will move next door to Tesla and occupy a 300,0000-square-foot building at the Marysville business park.

FILE - A Boeing 737 Max jet prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle, Sept. 30, 2020. Boeing said Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, that it took more than 200 net orders for passenger airplanes in December and finished 2022 with its best year since 2018, which was before two deadly crashes involving its 737 Max jet and a pandemic that choked off demand for new planes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Boeing’s $3.9B cash burn adds urgency to revival plan

Boeing’s first three months of the year have been overshadowed by the fallout from a near-catastrophic incident in January.

Police respond to a wrong way crash Thursday night on Highway 525 in Lynnwood after a police chase. (Photo provided by Washington State Department of Transportation)
Wrong-way driver accused of aggravated murder of Lynnwood woman, 83

The Kenmore man, 37, fled police, crashed into a GMC Yukon and killed Trudy Slanger on Highway 525, according to court papers.

A voter turns in a ballot on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024, outside the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
On fourth try, Arlington Heights voters overwhelmingly pass fire levy

Meanwhile, in another ballot that gave North County voters deja vu, Lakewood voters appeared to pass two levies for school funding.

Judge Whitney Rivera, who begins her appointment to Snohomish County Superior Court in May, stands in the Edmonds Municipal Court on Thursday, April 18, 2024, in Edmonds, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Judge thought her clerk ‘needed more challenge’; now, she’s her successor

Whitney Rivera will be the first judge of Pacific Islander descent to serve on the Snohomish County Superior Court bench.

In this Jan. 4, 2019 photo, workers and other officials gather outside the Sky Valley Education Center school in Monroe, Wash., before going inside to collect samples for testing. The samples were tested for PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, as well as dioxins and furans. A lawsuit filed on behalf of several families and teachers claims that officials failed to adequately respond to PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, in the school. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Judge halves $784M for women exposed to Monsanto chemicals at Monroe school

Monsanto lawyers argued “arbitrary and excessive” damages in the Sky Valley Education Center case “cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny.”

Mukilteo Police Chief Andy Illyn and the graphic he created. He is currently attending the 10-week FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. (Photo provided by Andy Illyn)
Help wanted: Unicorns for ‘pure magic’ career with Mukilteo police

“There’s a whole population who would be amazing police officers” but never considered it, the police chief said.

Officers respond to a ferry traffic disturbance Tuesday after a woman in a motorhome threatened to drive off the dock, authorities said. (Photo provided by Mukilteo Police Department)
Everett woman disrupts ferry, threatens to drive motorhome into water

Police arrested the woman at the Mukilteo ferry terminal Tuesday morning after using pepper-ball rounds to get her out.

Bothell
Man gets 75 years for terrorizing exes in Bothell, Mukilteo

In 2021, Joseph Sims broke into his ex-girlfriend’s home in Bothell and assaulted her. He went on a crime spree from there.

Allan and Frances Peterson, a woodworker and artist respectively, stand in the door of the old horse stable they turned into Milkwood on Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Old horse stall in Index is mini art gallery in the boonies

Frances and Allan Peterson showcase their art. And where else you can buy a souvenir Index pillow or dish towel?

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.