A heartbeat away from the presidency

Dick Cheney is hospitalized, briefly, for shortness of breath.

Published January 9, 2006 1:30PM (EST)

The Secret Service rushed Dick Cheney from his home to the George Washington University Hospital at about 3 a.m. today after the vice president became short of breath. Cheney was released from the hospital at about 7:30 a.m., according to the Associated Press.

The White House said that Cheney's shortness of breath stemmed from fluid retention related to medication he was taking for a problem with his foot. It was not, the White House said, related to any problem with Cheney's heart.

The AP report on the episode contains an unusually stark reminder of Cheney's health problems: In addition to an unspecified "foot condition" that forced him to use a cane Friday, the vice president has had "surgery to repair aneurysms behind both knees, four heart attacks, quadruple bypass surgery, two artery-clearing angioplasties and an operation to implant a special pacemaker in his chest."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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