Dick Cheney opens out about his heart

Dick Cheney and his cardiologist Dr. Jonathan Reiner spoke about the former vice president's complicated heart condition during a 60 Minutes interview.
Posted By Veronica Linares  |  Oct. 22, 2013 at 12:04 PM
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(UPI) -- Former vice president Dick Cheney opened up about his heart problems and his new book in an interview with CNN's Sanjay Gupta that aired on CBS Sunday.

During his 60 minutes interview Chaney spoke about his heart condition -- which has famously overlapped key moments in history -- claiming when 9/11 came there was no time to worry about his health.

"I didn't think about my health. I was thinking about the problem we were dealing with," Cheney said.

However, the former vice president was always prepared for the worse. Having suffered his first of five heart attacks in 1978, at the age of 37, Cheney said he wrote a secret resignation letter about two months after taking the oath as vice president.

He said he wrote it because he saw a gap in the U.S. Constitution that says if a vice president is alive but incapacitated, there's noting that allows for that person's removal. Worried that he might find himself in the position, he penned the letter.

The 72-year-old politician suffered four more heart attacks throughout the course of his career, they took place in 1984, 1988, 2000 and 2010.

Also in 2010, Cheney had a left ventricular assist device, or LVAD, implanted to help his heart pump while he waited for a new one. He later underwent an open heart surgery and had a pacemaker installed.

Asked how he felt now, Cheney said "fantastic."

"Now I'm to the point where -- I literally, you know, feel like I have a new heart, a lot more energy than I had previously. There aren't any real physical limits on what I do. I fish, I hunt. And -- I don't ski, but that's because of my knees, not my heart. So it's -- it's been a miracle," he said.

"You wake up every morning with a smile on your face because you've got a new day you never expected to have. And there's a sense, well, of wonderment. Nothing short of magical," he added.

Dr. Jonathan Reiner, Cheney's cardiologist who was also interviewed, also opened up about the added responsibilities that come with a famous patient. He spoke of Cheney's heart defibrillator in 2007 which had to be modified so it couldn't be hacked.

"It seemed to me to be a bad idea for the vice president of the United States to have a device that maybe somebody ... might be able to get into, hack into," Reiner said.

"I worried that someone could kill you," he told the former vice president.

Gupta's interview with Cheney and Reiner will air Tuesday on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360.

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