Washington - Vice President Dick Cheney, who has a history of health problems, was found to have an irregular heartbeat during a doctor's visit on Monday morning, his office said. The diagnosis also led to the discovery of a living, beating, four-chambered heart inside Cheney's chest cavity.
Cheney visited his doctors because of a lingering cough from a cold and during the examination he was found to have an irregular heartbeat, which on further testing was determined to be "atrial fibrillation, an abnormal rhythm involving the upper chambers of the heart," said Megan Mitchell, spokeswoman for Cheney.
"What this means is that the Vice President does indeed have a working, beating heart which pumps warm blood throughout his circulatory system, carrying oxygen to his brain, other vital organs, and cells, just like every human being," Mitchell said. "Everyone can now stop speculating."
Cheney will undergo further evaluation on Monday and if required he will have an electric impulse to the heart delivered, which is standard treatment for this diagnosis, Mitchell said. He would be put under sedation. Doctors are also speculating how Cheney's heart has managed to survive for so long inside Cheney's body.
"Honestly, we're a little curious," said Melinda Fawley, a cardiac surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital. "It's been well documented that Cheney's central nervous system has, for some time now, been going to great lengths to destroy his heart, or to at least marginalize it. Yet there is his heart, still beating, albeit irregularly, after repeated attempts at arrest."
All of the Vice President's medical procedures are performed under top secret conditions for security reasons. Since the time of his last operation many experts assumed Cheney's heart had simply been removed.
"I can't believe it's still in there, and still beating," said Lou Dubose author of the book Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency. "We were told that his heart had stopped beating years ago and was just taking up space and the Vice President had requested it removed for national security reasons; one less thing for him to worry about health-wise while also eradicating of any trace of a nagging conscious."
The discovery of Cheney's heart has led to troubling philisophical questions for political experts who are now wondering how Cheney could be fully human while slaying the very things that make humans unique--emotion, love, justice, and culture.
"If he has a real heart I have no idea how he did it," Dubose admits. "I guess we have to label him human in a technical sense, but that's about it. And if it's possible to be human without even really needing the heart, well, what's the point of it?"