Cheney suffered mild heart attack

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Dick Cheney is recovering from a "mild heart attack" — his latest bout in a long battle against heart disease.

Cheney was feeling fine on Tuesday and likely to be sent home from a Washington hospital within a day or two, aides aid. He experienced chest pain on Monday, and lab results revealed evidence of the heart attack, spokesman Peter Long said.

"The whole family has been working with heart disease for decades, and they are vigilant and attuned to treatment," said political consultant Mary Matalin, a friend and former counselor to Cheney.

She added that Cheney, now 69, "knows how to live with this disease" and is fortunate to have great doctors.

The news came just more than a week after Cheney and Vice President Joe Biden essentially dueled each across different Sunday television talk shows, bickering over national security, credit for success in Iraq and Iran's nuclear program. Even more recently, Cheney made a surprise appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference, delighting the partisan crowd.

Biden called Cheney on Tuesday to wish him well, as did Cheney's old boss, former President George W. Bush.

The heart attack is Cheney's fifth since age 37. A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart muscle is blocked.

After being admitted to George Washington University Hospital, Cheney underwent a stress test and a heart catheterization, according to a statement from his office. The statement did not say whether an angioplasty — a procedure to clear a blockage — was performed.

Regardless, while a mild heart attack doesn't by definition do much damage to the heart muscle, cumulative ones add up.

"We know he's got bad heart function to start. Any degree of loss of heart tissue is going to impair his heart function more," said interventional cardiologist William O'Neill, executive dean for clinical affairs at the University of Miami School of Medicine.