Dick Cheney Gets a Heart Pump: What Is That?

The ex-VP is recovering from major surgery that could help extend his life

Dick Cheney has had a change of heart -- sort of. The 69-year-old former vice president of the United States is recovering from surgery that implanted a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) to treat advancing congestive heart failure, according to the Washington Post. The device will help take the pressure off his weakened heart by taking over its blood-pumping duties.

The new pump may make it a little harder for Cheney to go through airport security -- the LVAD may be implanted inside the chest, but a small wire comes through the skin and attaches to a battery pack the patient can carry over the shoulder. Since the LVAD was designed to buy time for patients waiting for heart transplants, this surgery may only be a temporary solution to Cheney’s long-time struggle with heart disease, which includes five heart attacks. Though we don’t know if Cheney’s heart pump is permanent, Dr. Samer Najjar, medical director of the heart transplant and LVAD division at Washington Hospital Center in Washington D.C., told the Associated Press that recent studies project a two-year survival rate for 63 percent of patients who receive a permanent LVAD.

"The operation went very well and I am now recuperating," Cheney said in a statement released July 7. While he didn’t comment specifically on his long-term prognosis, the former VP did say the LVAD will help him resume an active life, which no doubt includes weighing in on political issues and dodging hunting jokes.

Do you know anyone who has had a heart pump implanted? Chime in below!

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