Skip to main content
CNN.com /transcript
CNN TV
EDITIONS

CNN BREAKING NEWS

Medical Procedure Will Determine Whether Cheney Needs Pacemaker

Aired June 29, 2001 - 11:01   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to begin this hour with the concerns over the health of Vice President Dick Cheney. Just over an hour ago he announced that he is going to check into a hospital tomorrow and undergo more heart testing. And if needed doctors -- he says that doctors may go ahead and implant a pacemaker-plus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It detected some minor periods -- very short periods, one to two seconds each, of rapid heart rate. I can't feel anything when it happens. I'm asymptomatic; nothing shows externally with respect to that. But it does raise the possibility that I may need to have implanted sort of, I think of it was a pacemaker-plus. It's something called an ICD, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Now, the vice president has been suffering from coronary heart disease for a quarter century and he has suffered four heart attacks, the latest just last year.

Joining us now from Washington for more on the vice president's health and the procedure that he's going to undergo is CNN medical news correspondent Rea Blakey.

Good morning.

REA BLAKEY, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Leon.

That procedure that the vice president will undergo tomorrow is called an electrophysiology study. Now, it's the most accurate way to pinpoint the cause of an irregular heart beat. One to two second abnormalities in the vice president's heartbeat were detected recently while he was undergoing testing. Now, that testing was precautionary, according to Dr. Jonathan Reiner, Cheney's cardiologist.

Cheney wore a halter monitor for about 34 hours during a weekend, and at least four times his heart recorded irregular heartbeats. Now, a statement released by Cheney from his cardiologist states that he will undergo "elective, outpatient procedure at George Washington University Hospital." This will be tomorrow. "The procedure, an electrophysiology study, is being performed for the purpose of determining the vice president's risk of developing a persistent abnormal heart rhythm. The decision to proceed with EPS testing was prompted by the finding of four brief asymptomatic episodes of abnormal, fast heartbeat."

Now, also noted, "It's important to note," according to the statement, that the current testing is unrelated to the vice president's prior coronary stenting, and does not include progression" -- "or indicate," rather, "progression of his coronary artery disease."

Now, that procedure will last one to two hours, with at least a half hour of preparation time after the vice president arrives at George Washington University Medical Center. He'll have to lie down on back, have a small area of his groin shaved so that specialists can insert a small intravenous tube under the skin to his heart.

Now, X-ray cameras will help the electrophysiology navigate the catheters. And once they're in position, they'll stress the vice president's heart, stress his electrical system. They want to recreate the conditions that cause the arrhythmia.

Now, it's a controlled setting, and according to Dr. Jay Mazell (ph), a cardiologist here in the Washington area, it is the best place, if a person's going to have a heart attack, to have one. Now, only in 10 to 20 percent of procedures do patients actually need to have their heart restarted. And that can cause a little confusion or dizziness for a few seconds immediately after that occurs.

Now, after the procedure itself, the catheter is removed. Mr. Cheney will be an outpatient for about three to six hours, depending on his recovery, at which time they'll monitor his blood pressure and his pulse. Now, in less than 1 percent of the cases -- less than 1 percent chance that procedure will cause a heart attack, stroke, bleeding, or clotting, or a perforation of the heart. Fatal complications occur in less than once in 1,000 -- I'm sorry, less than once in every 5,000 patients.

So, again, fairly minimal risk here.

As Mr. Cheney discussed with White House reporters this morning, his cardiologists will determine if he needs an implantable cardiac device to regulate his heartbeat. But they'll know that during the EPS study. So we'll find out a lot tomorrow -- Leon.

HARRIS: All right, good deal. We've found out quite a bit just now from you. Rea Blakey in Washington, thank you very much.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

 Search   




MARKETS
4:30pm ET, 4/16
144.70
8257.60
3.71
1394.72
10.90
879.91
 














Back to the top