White House

Cheney goes to hospital for irregular heartbeat

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

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

His office said that after experiencing a problem, the vice president went to the White House physician, who found that Cheney was having 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 an electric shock then. Cheney has had four heart attacks, the first at age 37. He's had quadruple bypass surgery and two angioplasties, and a pacemaker was implanted in his chest in 2001. The device was replaced last year.

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