Cheney Returning to Work Following Pacemaker Implant

ByScott Lindlaw

W A S H I N G T O N, July 2, 2001 -- Vice President Dick Cheney returned to worktoday with a new heart pacemaker in his chest. He was promotingthe energy strategy he assembled for the administration andattending his usual series of White House meetings.

Cheney entered the White House through the northwest gate about7:45 a.m. and walked into the building.

After meeting with President Bush this morning, Cheney wasfielding energy questions from reporters in at least three radiointerviews and sitting down with staff members to discuss a rangeof policy issues, said spokeswoman Juleanna Glover Weiss.

"It's a typical day," she said.

Cheney planned no public appearances, and was not headed toCapitol Hill, she said. Cheney is a key contact between theadministration and lawmakers, but Congress is in recess this week.

Successful Procedure

A dual-purpose pacemaker was implanted in Cheney's chest in anhourlong procedure Saturday at George Washington UniversityHospital. He was home a few hours later.

It works like any other pacemaker by assuring that his heartdoes not beat too slowly. When it detects the beat slowing below acertain level, it sends a mild electric charge to pace the beat ata minimum level.

More dramatically, if the heart suddenly surges to a dangerous,high-speed beat, the defibrillator kicks in. It sends an electricaljolt to the lower chamber of the heart and causes it to slow down.Sometimes this will cause the heart to slow too much, and that iswhen the pacemaker turns on and adjusts the rhythm.

That jolt could be jarring for Cheney, said Dr. Douglas Zipes,president of the American College of Cardiology and an authority onirregular heart rhythms who has consulted with the vice president'sdoctors.

Giant Hiccup to Mule Kick in the Chest'

"That is something he will feel, and patients describe itanywhere from a giant hiccup to a mule kick in the chest," Zipessaid on Fox News Sunday.

"With an electric shock, it contracts all of the muscles, notjust the heart but the chest muscles, too," Zipes said. "Yes,it's recognizable."

Cheney's personal cardiologist has said there was less than a 10percent chance that the defibrillator will be needed to calmCheney's heart. Asked how the device will affect Cheney's dailylife, Zipes said, "Probably not at all."

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said he had nodoubts about Cheney's ability to serve in his job.

"Obviously this has been a matter that the vice president's hadto contend with for many years," Daschle said on ABCNEWS's ThisWeek. "He's done it successfully, and I have every expectationhe'll continue to do so."

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., told CBS' Face theNation that Cheney has been "very, very vigorous in carrying outhis office, and I expect him to continue to do so."

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