White House

Cheney in hospital for abnormal heartbeat

WASHINGTON — Vice President Dick Cheney went to the hospital Wednesday after experiencing an abnormal heartbeat and is scheduled to have an outpatient procedure to "restore his normal rhythm," his office said.

Cheney, 67, was schedule to go to George Washington University Hospital here to have a cardiology procedure for the second time in less than a year. The condition forced Cheney to cancel attending a campaign event for Marty Ozinga, an Illinois Republican running for a House of Representatives seat, Cheney’s office said in a three-paragraph statement.

Cheney's office said that after experiencing a problem, the vice president went to the White House physician, who found that he was experiencing a recurrence of atrial fibrillation, an abnormal rhythm involving the upper chambers of the heart.

Cheney suffered the same condition in November 2007, and doctors administered electric shock then. Cheney has had four heart attacks, suffering the first at age 37. He’s had quadruple bypass surgery, two angioplasties, and had a pacemaker implanted in his chest in 2001. He had the device replaced last year.

Atrial fibrillation is a common type of irregular heartbeat. Episodes aren't life threatening and patients sometimes aren't aware they've had an episode. But if the condition continues unchecked, it can increase the formation of blood clots, which can travel to the brain and cause a stroke.