Entries in Dick Cheney (3)


Dick Cheney to Pen Memoir About Heart Troubles

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- For years late-night comics have wondered whether or not Dick Cheney has a heart. Now we have an answer — he does. And he’s writing a book about it.

The “non-political memoir,” to be published late next year, will chronicle the former vice president’s 34 years of heart troubles, starting with his first heart attack in 1978, the four he suffered in later years, and the heart transplant he received earlier this year. His daughter Liz Cheney and cardiologist Jonathan Reiner will co-author.

Gary Schwitzer, publisher of the website, said he wondered if Cheney will address the fact that the left ventricular assist device inserted into his heart to prevent it from failing was developed with taxpayer-supported government research at the National Institutes of Health.

“The book could do a public service…depending on how it deals with these values,” Schwitzer said.

Either way, Cheney isn’t the only Republican who plans to weigh in on personal healthcare reform in book form. Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin announced earlier this year she is writing a diet and fitness book that will allow you to shed pounds — perhaps without giving up such Palin family favorites as Moose Chili and Eskimo ice cream, which involves taking lard and sugar, beating them together until cream, then adding berries.

Politics aside, nutrition experts are on board with the concept of Palin’s book.

“Not sure what her idea of taking a balanced approach to diet means, but if she’s advocating getting off the fad diet roller-coaster I’m glad she’s sending that message,” said Cynthia Sass, a registered dietician in New York City.

Sass said she hopes Palin will collaborate with a registered dietitian to ensure that the information she provides is sound, accurate and science-based.

Perhaps just the idea of being a heartbeat away from the presidency is enough to put someone on a health kick — though there’s no word on whether the marathon running former Republican vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, is shopping any fitness titles yet.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Heart Failure Patients Seek 'Cheney Pump'

Frank Siteman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The pump that kept Dick Cheney's blood flowing while he waited for a heart transplant has seen a surge in popularity, a trend credited in part to the 71-year-old's successful 20-month stretch with the device.

"The reality is that many patients have come to us asking about the 'Cheney pump,'" said Dr. Robert Kormos, director of the Artificial Heart Program at the University of Pittsburgh, referring to the Left Ventricular Assist Device, or LVAD, that pumped Cheney's blood on behalf of his failing heart. "His positive presentation while on the device has very much been positive for the public impression of the therapy."

For Cheney, the LVAD was a bridge therapy, a temporary fix while the former vice president climbed a lengthy transplant waiting list. Cheney received his new heart Saturday at a hospital in Falls Church, Va. But for some patients, the device is a long-term solution to heart failure, a condition that kills 300,000 Americans each year.

"There is no doubt that more and more patients are doing well [on LVADs] for long periods of time," said Dr. John Byrne, chair of cardiothoracic surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. Unlike bridge therapy, "destination therapy" keeps patients on an LVAD indefinitely. "In my mind, the distinction between destination therapy and bridge therapy is becoming less important. I suspect VP Cheney's successful transplant will add to the enthusiasm for [L]VAD therapy as a viable long-term option for many patients with severe cardiac failure."

Experts say Cheney's 20-month stint with an LVAD is average or slightly longer than usual for someone awaiting a heart transplant. But some patients have lived with the device for several years.

Cheney's success might also prompt heart failure patients to consider an LVAD earlier on.

"Regardless of the circumstances that led to [Cheney] being transplanted at this time rather than staying on the LVAD permanently, his favorable LVAD experience has been confidence-building and will likely lead to greater use of LVADs," said Dr. Timothy Gardner, medical director or the Center for Heart & Vascular Health at Christiana Care Health System in Newark, Del. "In particular, it is likely that LVAD implants will be performed a bit earlier in the course of a patient's heart-failure deterioration."

But long-term use of LVADs comes with risks. The open-heart procedure to implant the device can cause life-threatening bleeding or infection, according to the Mayo Clinic. And after the LVAD is successfully implanted, blood can clot inside the device. Patients are sometimes prescribed blood thinners, which also carry risks. There's also a chance the battery-operated machine could stop working.

"VP Cheney's LVAD was not used as destination therapy; it was used as a bridge to transplantation," said Dr. William Abraham, MD, director of cardiovascular medicine at Ohio State University in Columbus, who was not involved in Cheney's care. "That said, his case does demonstrate good outcome on an LVAD over 20 months and supports the use of LVADs for end-stage heart failure. This is well-supported by the LVAD trials and we are seeing a steady increase in LVAD use."

"The greater awareness of LVADs because of VP Cheney should drive further growth," Abraham added."I do have patients that inquire about getting the type of device he had."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Is Dick Cheney Too Old for a Heart Transplant?

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As Dick Cheney recovers from heart transplant surgery, questions are being raised about whether the former vice president is too old for a new heart.

Cheney, 71, who received the new heart on Saturday at a hospital in Falls Church, Va., has been on the cardiac transplant list for more than 20 months.

Some medical centers will not perform a heart transplant on patients over 65, but other major centers will perform transplants on patients who are as old as 72.

In any case, transplants at Cheney's age are not unheard of: Last year 332 heart transplants were performed on people over 65, and according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, 14 percent of recipients are over the age of 65.

"Patients from 18 all the way up to 71 years old, are on the same national list and you're listed on the basis of medical urgency and then how long you've been waiting," said Dr. Jonathan Chen, an adjunct associate professor of surgery at Columbia University in New York.

ABC News chief medical editor Dr. Richard Besser said the average waiting time for a heart transplant at UCLA Medical Center is three to six months.  But Cheney waited for more than 20 months to receive a new heart.  Experts differ on whether the 20-month wait is longer than normal.

"Twenty months, as an outpatient, [is] not [an] unusually long wait," Dr. Marrick Kukin, director of heart failure at St. Lukes Roosevelt in New York said.  But Dr. Keith Aaronson, medical director of the heart failure program at the University of Michigan said 20 months "is a relatively long waiting time for an LVAD recipient to wait for a heart transplant."

A Left Ventricular Assist Device, or LVAD, is an auxiliary pump, used when a patient's own heart is unable to pump effectively to meet the body's needs.  It can be used as a bridge to get someone to transplant, a bridge while waiting to determine if someone will be a transplant candidate, or as an end in itself.

Aaronson said Cheney might have waited because he may have had kidney dysfunction or pulmonary hypertension at the time his LVAD was implanted.  These conditions are common in patients with advanced heart failure but sometimes improve after placement of an LVAD and make previously ineligible patients "acceptable candidates" for transplant, he said.

Because Cheney has had two prior heart surgeries, the immediate period after his heart transplant is critical.  The majority of patients die from acute rejection, infection or complications of surgery.

If his heart should fail, Cheney would have two options: Undergo another transplant, which few centers would offer for a candidate of his age; or have another LVAD implanted, according to Dr. Mary Norin Walsh, director of cardiac transplantation at St. Vincent Hospital in Indiana.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio