Quick Hospital Visit For Cheney

Vice President Dick Cheney leaves George Washington University Hospital, Monday Jan. 9, 2006, in Washington. Cheney was taken to the hospital early Monday experiencing shortness of breath, a spokeswoman said. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
Vice President Dick Cheney was taken to George Washington Hospital early Monday experiencing shortness of breath, a spokeswoman said. He was released four-and-a-half hours later and was expected at the White House for afternoon meetings.

Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride said Cheney was taken to the hospital at 3 a.m. Doctors found his EKG, or electrocardiogram, unchanged and determined he was retaining fluid because of medication he was taking for an undisclosed foot problem.

Cheney, who has a long history of heart problems and has a pacemaker, was placed on a diuretic at the hospital.

McBride would not say what was wrong with Cheney's foot. The ailment forced the vice president to use a cane Friday.

CBS News chief White House correspondent John Roberts reports that sources familiar with the Vice President's medical condition say "he has occasional bouts with inflammation in his left foot, sometimes in the heel, which has been diagnosed as tendonitis, sometimes in the joint of his big toe, which has not been definitively diagnosed."

Some doctors have suggested it might be gout, and Cheney's personal physician, Dr. Gary Malakoff of George Washington Hospital, said back in 2000 that, in the past, Cheney has had several minor episodes of "gout of the foot," reports Roberts.

However, sources close to Cheney said he does not suffer from the acute pain usually associated with gout, nor does he have raised levels of uric acid in his blood, which is also associated with gout, Roberts added. Other doctors have suggested that osteoarthritis is the cause.

According to WebMD, gout is a form of arthritis that causes sudden, severe attacks of pain, tenderness, redness, warmth and swelling (inflammation) in some joints. It usually affects one joint at a time.

"He's doing fine," President Bush told reporters during a visit to a Maryland elementary school. "I talked to him this morning. His health is good. He'll be coming in to work a little later on today."

Mr. Bush's doctor notified him of Cheney's hospitalization early Monday morning before the president reported to the Oval office, said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. The president called Cheney after the vice president was released from the hospital and returned to his residence, and after Mr. Bush had breakfast with Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, McClellan said.

McClellan bluntly dismissed any question of Cheney's future in the administration, saying the president was "absolutely" not considering replacing the vice president.

"The vice president's doing a great job on behalf of the American people," he said. "He's a very important member of the team."