Vice President Dick Cheney should be able to continue in his job unimpeded by his latest heart problems, doctors say, shrugging off any suggestion that he should curtail travel or his intense workload.
But Cheney also was given some tough news after he had an angioplasty to unclog a coronary artery Monday. Even if he sticks to his no-beef diet and rigorous workout regimen, there is a fair chance he will be back in the hospital facing the same trouble soon, his physicians said.
“Well, it’s possible for the narrowing to come back, and I think I quoted around 40 percent,” Dr. Jonathan Reiner, who performed the surgery at George Washington University, told a crowded news conference. “There are studies that may show, you know, a little bit higher than that. If the narrowing is going to come back, usually it comes back within the first six months.”
Cheney, who has had four heart attacks, underwent the angioplasty after he experienced a series of subtle pains in his chest. Doctors said their best evidence indicated that Cheney, 60, had not suffered another heart attack.
The artery, which had been opened during surgery at the same hospital in November, had partially reclosed, Reiner said. The culprit was scar tissue building up in the same channel doctors had opened previously.
Monday night Cheney was groggy and sedated, but Reiner said he should be back at work this week. When asked whether Cheney could face travel restrictions, or any restrictions at all, Reiner said, “No.”
Cheney could be released Tuesday; a decision was expected Tuesday morning.
“There is a very high likelihood he can finish out his term in his fully vigorous capacity,” Reiner said. Cheney quickly resumed a full schedule after the November operation.
President George W. Bush called the vice president to wish him well, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. “During their five-minute phone call, the vice president told the president that he was feeling fine and looked forward to returning to work.”
In this latest incident, Cheney checked himself into George Washington University Hospital, about six blocks west of the White House, after feeling chest pain briefly on two occasions Monday. He also had felt chest discomfort Saturday after stepping off an exercise machine, and on Sunday, after taking a walk.
He said the episodes were”much milder and very brief” compared with the chest pains he experienced in November. “The symptoms were subtle” this time, Reiner said.