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Cheney speaks at heart failure event

May 6, 2012 at 7:53 PM

OKLAHOMA CITY, May 6 (UPI) -- Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, who had a heart transplant recently, told a gathering of doctors it takes "gumption" to overcome health setbacks.

Cheney delivered a "fireside chat" to an audience of healthcare professionals at the 2012 Integris Advanced Cardiac Care Heart Failure Symposium in Oklahoma City Saturday, The Oklahoman reported.

"It never really sank in what it meant to be disabled until I went through that process," he said. "You have to have gumption every day. It'd be relatively easy to get frustrated by it all and just lie there in bed -- but that would be a big mistake."

Cheney told his audience the first time he was aware he had a problem was in the middle of his campaign for Congress.

"I got out of the car, walked into the emergency room, lay down on the table and passed out. That was my first heart attack,"he said.

Cheney has suffered five heart attacks, the first of which occurred when he was 37 years old. At 71, Cheney has undergone several procedures -- from angioplasties to a pacemaker to a left ventricular assist device -- until he finally underwent a heart transplant in March.

He said a doctor once convinced him to stay in his congressional race as a way to stay vibrant and relevant.

'He said, 'You're going to be in a lot more danger having to spend your life doing something you don't want to do,'" Cheney said. "That advice stuck with me from the very early days, and I did the things a prudent man would do -- I followed the advice of my doctor.'"

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