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

CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS

Cheney to Check Into Hospital Within an Hour

Aired June 30, 2001 - 07:01   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.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: We begin in Washington, where Vice President Dick Cheney is expected to check into a hospital within the hour. Doctors will perform a test on Cheney's heart to determine whether to implant a defibrillator. The device would correct brief changes in Cheney's heart rhythms.

Cheney is perhaps the most influential and engaged vice president in U.S. history, and he appears to be making an effort to be as forthcoming as possible about his condition.

CNN's Major Garrett was there when Cheney broke the news.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The vice president broke the news of his latest heart scare, doing everything to give the appearance of calm and control as he prepares to enter the hospital for more tests.

CHENEY: It's called an electrophysiology study, and it specifically is performed for the purpose of determining the perspective risk for me going forward in terms of abnormal heart rhythms.

GARRETT: Abnormal heart rhythms, again. Doctors detected them two weeks ago -- short flutters that Mr. Cheney says he can't even feel.

CHENEY: I'm oblivious to these incidents when they occur, and they only last one or two seconds. It's just a short of period of time when there's a rapid heartbeat and then it stops.

GARRETT: But intervention is required, just as it was in March, when doctors inserted a stent to enlarge a clogged artery. After Saturday's heart test, doctors will decide whether to implant a defibrillator -- a device that will detect a rapid heartbeat and electronically slow it down.

Mr. Cheney, 60, has already suffered four heart attacks.

CHENEY: I look on this as an insurance policy. It may never actually be needed, but if it is, it's obviously the right thing to do to have it implanted. GARRETT: The vice president will have to be sedated during the outpatient procedure. Still, he hopes to be back to work on Monday, but will heed his doctors' advice about how soon to return to a full schedule.

CHENEY: The doctors have assured me there's no reason why either the procedure or the devise that's being implanted should in any way inhibit my capacity to function as the vice president.

GARRETT: Mr. Cheney maintains a heavy workload, heading up task forces on energy, domestic terrorism and global warming. And he's a huge player on defense and international policy as well.

(on camera): Mr. Cheney says President Bush urged him to take all necessary precautions. One precaution Mr. Cheney took was to announce this news himself, a move he said was designed to minimize a media feeding frenzy.

Major Garrett, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: Nevertheless, the vice president's heart troubles are the focus of a lot of media attention this morning. CNN medical correspondent Rea Blakey joins us from George Washington University Hospital, where Mr. Cheney will be tested and then possibly implanted with that defibrillator.

Rea, first of all, let's begin this electrophysiologic test. What does that involve?

REA BLAKEY, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The electrophysiology study, that actually involves a mild sedative. What will happen is, a catheter or small wire will be sent up the vice president's upper thigh underneath his skin, up into his chest, into the heart cavity. And what doctors will do is, they will try to recreate the arrhythmias that he experienced during a week of -- a week ago during an experimental test then, at which time he wore a Holter.

And let me just show you really quickly, Miles, so that you get a real sense of what that involved. This particular piece of equipment is a portable Holter EKG, and it also has a little device to it where if a patient does in fact feel some symptoms, they can press this button, and basically it indicates on a test lead that they noticed some symptoms.

Now, not everybody experiences symptoms, and the vice president said he did not, he had no idea that his heart was in fact beating just a little bit too fast. And so this study today will basically try to recreate those same periods of time so the doctors can precisely figure out what's going on with the vice president's electrical system of his heart.

So that's what they're trying to do. At that point, then they'll decide whether or not to implant. O'BRIEN: Well, let's go back for just a minute. Sounds like that might be slightly risky, if they're trying to recreate something they'd like to avoid.

BLAKEY: Actually, it's probably the best place to have not only an arrhythmia or a heart attack, because, quite frankly, he'll have all the emergency equipment right there on standby. There's a very minimal risk that anything could go wrong.

However, if something does go wrong, that's the best place. In about 1 percent of the cases, there is a fatality. This is not anticipated today, obviously. And in 10 to 20 percent of the cases, it's quite possible that if the patient does in fact suffer an arrhythmia, which they're trying to create, that that could cause some symptoms like dizziness or maybe even something extreme, like a heart attack or a stroke.

Again, the best place to have that occur is right there where obviously the emergency equipment is readily available. So the risk is really minimal, quite frankly.

O'BRIEN: Rea, what's the timeline today? How long will the test take, and if it is decided to implant that device, how long will that all take?

BLAKEY: Well, the EPS test generally takes about half an hour for preparation, then the test itself somewhere between an hour to two hours. Again, the vice president should be pretty much awake during this procedure. They'll actually ask for his engagement, if you will, to see if he's noticing any symptoms.

After that, if they decide to implant the defibrillator, that could take another hour or so. So it's possible that we could be looking at something maybe on the order of three, four, five hours before we hear something. But there will be a news conference sometime around noon. So we'll keep you updated as things progress, Miles.

O'BRIEN: CNN medical correspondent Rea Blakey, thanks much. She's at George Washington Hospital.

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