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Cheney Checks Out

The pacemaker in Vice President Dick Cheney's chest has not been needed to correct any irregular heartbeat since the device was implanted in June, doctors found in a hospital checkup Friday.

Cheney, who has a 30-year history of heart trouble, went straight from his two-hour physical at George Washington University Medical Center to a day of work at the White House.

He did not speak to reporters at the hospital.

"After his routine checkup, the vice president was told by his doctor that all the news was very good. In particular, the doctor noted that the vice president's ICD neither detected nor treated any arrhythmia," said vice presidential adviser Mary Matalin.

Cheney, 61, plans to travel next month to Britain and the Middle East on a grueling 11-nation tour.

Under the care of cardiologist Jonathan S. Reiner, Cheney submitted Friday to a physical exam, an electrocardiogram or EKG, an echocardiogram and a stress test.

In the noninvasive check of Cheney's ICD, the doctor electronically scanned the pacemaking device — called an implantable cardioverter defibrillator — to make sure it is working and to see if it had been activated to adjust Cheney's heartbeat, Matalin said.

She declined to release any more detailed results of the other exams and testing.

"The fact that it didn't activate is a good thing," said Dr. Stuart F. Seides, a cardiologist at the Washington Hospital Center. He said the defibrillator acts like a safety net, automatically detecting and correcting arrhythmia that in some patients can be lethal.

The fact the device did not activate "indicates that he did not require the use of the safety net," Seides said. "Nothing has really changed for him."

The electrical pacemaking device was placed in Cheney's chest in June because his medical history places him at risk for a rapid heartbeat. The device was last checked in October, at which time it also showed no activity.

If Cheney's heart had slipped into an abnormal rhythm, the ICD would have activated to jolt the heart back into a proper beat.

Cheney has had four heart attacks, the most recent in November 2000, and was hospitalized last March to reopen a partially blocked artery.

In 1988, after suffering his third heart attack, Cheney had quadruple bypass surgery to clear clogged arteries.

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