January 9, 2006

Cheney treated at hospital for shortness of breath

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, who
has a history of heart problems, was treated at a hospital on
Monday for shortness of breath believed to have been triggered
by a reaction to medication for a foot ailment, his office

President George W. Bush told reporters Cheney was feeling
well and expected back at his office later Monday. He had gone
to George Washington University Hospital at 3 a.m., spent more
than four hours there, then went home for some rest.

"He's doing fine, I talked to him this morning. His health
is good. He'll be coming in to work a little later on today,"
Bush said.

And by afternoon, Cheney was back at the White House and
had resumed his regular schedule, his office said.

Cheney, 64, has had four heart attacks. At the hospital,
doctors administered an electrocardiogram, a test that monitors
the electrical activity of the heart, and "found that it was
unchanged," a statement from Cheney's office said.

They determined Cheney was retaining fluid as a result of
anti-inflammatory medication he has been taking for a foot
problem. The statement said Cheney was placed on a diuretic as

The vice president's office initially refused to explain
what was wrong with Cheney's left foot, first noticed when he
had to walk with a cane last week, but a spokeswoman offered an
explanation hours after Cheney left the hospital.

"He has occasional bouts with inflammation in his left
foot, sometimes in the heel, which has been diagnosed as
tendinitis, sometimes in the joint of his big toe, which has
not been definitively diagnosed," said spokeswoman Jenny


She said gout was a possibility but it was not definite.

"Some doctors have suggested it might be gout, but he does
not suffer from the acute pain usually associated with gout,
nor does he have raised levels of uric acid in his blood, which
is also associated with gout.

"Other doctors have suggested that osteoarthritis is the
cause," Mayfield said.

A Washington podiatrist, Dr. Stephen Pribut, said that
based on Cheney's symptoms he might have gout but quite often
foot ailments like this are symptomatic of a mechanical problem
that can be treated with shoe inserts called orthotics.

"The problem is the foot problem is harder to diagnose than
you think," Pribut said. "I think people go into it with
preconceived notions and don't check the entire joint from top
to bottom."

The problem forced Cheney to walk with a cane during a trip
to Kansas City, Missouri, Friday and at the time Cheney joked
that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had been "chewing on my

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said it was
"absolutely" expected Cheney's health was such that he would be
able to serve as vice president for Bush's three remaining
years in office. "The vice president is doing a great job on
behalf of the American people and is a very important member of
the team," McClellan said.

Cheney has had a variety of health problems. His fourth
heart attack, a mild one, took place shortly after the
contested presidential race in November 2000.

He had a defibrillator implanted in his chest in 2001 to
help regulate his heartbeat. And he had surgery to treat
aneurysms behind both knees in September 2005.