July 15, 2010 / 12:06 AM / 10 years ago

Former Vice President Dick Cheney gets new heart device

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has a long history of heart problems, said on Wednesday he has had a new heart pump implanted.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney speaks about national security at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, May 21, 2009. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/Files

“A few weeks ago, it became clear that I was entering a new phase of the disease when I began to experience increasing congestive heart failure,” Cheney, 69, said in a statement.

“After a series of recent tests and discussions with my doctors, I decided to take advantage of one of the new technologies available and have a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) implanted,” he said.

“The LVAD is a small implantable pump that improves heart function and will enable me to resume an active life.”

Cheney, who has had five heart attacks, the latest in February, said the surgery went well and he was recuperating.

LVADs helps maintain the pumping ability of a heart that cannot work effectively on its own. They are usually implanted only in patients with severe heart failure and are nicknamed a “bridge to transplant”, according to the American Heart Association.

Congestive heart failure is a chronic condition that develops as the heart loses its ability to pump properly and gradually enlarges.

Cheney previously had a defibrillator implanted to monitor his heart and shock it back into a normal rhythm if abnormal beating occurred. It was replaced in 2007 because of a low battery.

Studies have shown LVADs reduce the risk of death in end-stage heart failure patients by 50 percent, extending the average life span from 3.1 months to more than 10 months.

Cheney, a Republican, has been a vocal critic of Democratic President Barack Obama’s policies.

Reporting by Steve Holland and Maggie Fox; Editing by John O'Callaghan

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