Dick Cheney: Heart Attack Helped Me Politically

Former VP grants rare interview to Journal about health problems
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2011 11:34 AM CDT

(Newser) – Heart disease has been the curse of Dick Cheney's life since he had the first of five heart attacks more than 30 years ago, but he sees a silver lining. That first heart attack came during his 1978 run for Congress in a tight race. "As I looked back on it later, I became convinced it kind of helped," he tells the Wall Street Journal in a rare interview about his heart problems. "It significantly advanced my name identification. I got a lot of coverage. I even got sympathy donations. It worked out."

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Some other highlights:

  • 'The gear': Cheney now wears a vest with a small computer and two battery packs. The contraption powers a device (LVAD) implanted near his heart that helps it pump. "They're good for about 10 hours," he says. "Put these in this morning."
  • Close call: Cheney says he nearly died after his fifth heart attack last year, before he had surgery to implant the LVAD. "All my systems are starting to crash—kidneys, liver, everything, blood flow just wasn't adequate to keep everything going." He had surgery that night.
  • Big picture: "You could, and some people do, become so fixated on the disease that they, well, they don't get to get on with their lives. You've got to get on with your life. It's never stopped me, though there's nothing in particular special about me. It's a reflection about how good the technology has grown."
Click to read the full interview. (Read more Dick Cheney stories.)

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