Metaphorically speaking this may always have been the case, but now it’s literal: this July our Cheney was implanted with a mechanical heart that employs continuous blood flow, leaving him without a pulse.
This is only the most recent episode of heart-drama for Dick. He’s suffered five heart attacks:
- 1978, aged 37. His first heart attack does not faze our Dick, who wins Congressional election that same year.
- 1984, aged 43. The second likewise did little to slow Cheney down, and shortly after he became House Minority Whip.
- 1988, aged 47. Attack resulted in quadruple bypass surgery. His heart-health stabilizes into the ’90s, and he stops having check-ups in 1996.
- November 2000, aged 59. Just before election results, what Cheney calls “a very slight heart attack” resulted in a coronary stent to prop open a narrowed artery. In 2001 he undergoes urgent surgery to reopen the blocked artery.
- February 2010, age 69. Most recent heart attack.
Following the latter episode, he’s experienced severe heart failure, leading to the mechanical pump he has today. This is to say nothing of the several other (though mostly elective) surgeries the former-VP has had in the past 10 years– that’s for another post.
These pumps are partial artificial hearts known as ventricular assist devices. Typically they are used only on patients with end-stage heart failure.