Cheney has blood clot in leg, returns to work

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Doctors found a blood clot in U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney’s left leg on Monday but he was able to return to work and will be treated with blood thinning drugs, his office said.

Vice President Dick Cheney arrives to deliver remarks at the 34th Annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, March 1, 2007. Doctors found a blood clot in Cheney's left leg on Monday but he was not admitted to a hospital and will be treated with blood thinning medication, his office said. REUTERS/Jim Young

Cheney, 66, who has a long history of heart trouble, went in for tests after experiencing “mild calf discomfort” following a nine-day trip to Asia and the Middle East that ended last week, his spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride said.

There was no need to admit him to hospital, she said.

“An ultrasound revealed a deep venous thrombosis or blood clot in his left lower leg,” she said.

“His doctors will treat him with blood thinning medication for several months. The vice president has returned to the White House to resume his schedule.”

Experts consider a blood clot in the leg to be dangerous if not treated properly because it can move to the heart and cause a heart attack, to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism or to the brain and cause a stroke.

Cheney, who has been one of President George W. Bush’s closest advisers and has wielded more power than many of his predecessors, has had four heart attacks but none since becoming vice president in January 2001.

Cheney spent 65 hours in the air during his recent trip, which included a visit to Afghanistan where a suicide bomber struck at the gates of the main U.S. military base while he was inside. U.S. officials say he was never in danger.

“In light of his recent prolonged air travel, he visited his doctor’s office,” McBride said. “He feels fine.”

Cheney had addressed a Veterans of Foreign Wars meeting at a Washington hotel on Monday morning, telling his audience he covered 25,000 miles on his latest foreign trip.

Stephen Siegel, a cardiologist at NYU Medical Center, said: “This is a very common, potentially life-threatening condition that’s easily controlled with medication.”

He said people can develop deep venous thrombosis from sitting for long periods and that calf pain or swelling is a common symptom. If the condition worsens, some people suffer shortness of breath or cough blood.

Cheney was given a clean bill of health on July 1 after routine tests to check on aneurysms on the backs of his knees. A pacemaker had been inserted in his chest in 2001.

In September 2005, Cheney underwent successful surgery to implant stent grafts behind both knees. They are tubes to help the blood flow through weakened arteries.