WASHINGTON -- Vice President Dick Cheney, who has a history of heart trouble, went to a hospital yesterday after experiencing shortness of breath. Tests found no abnormalities, an aide said, and Cheney left after three hours.
"I feel fine," the 63-year-old vice president said as he walked out with his wife, Lynne. Cheney smiled and waved. "Sorry we ruined your Saturday," Mrs. Cheney said. "We're great."
A pacemaker implanted in Cheney's chest three years ago indicated no irregularities in the past 90 days, said Mary Matalin, a spokeswoman for the vice president. The device gives doctors a three-month readout. She said an electrocardiogram, which measures the heart's electrical activity, had shown no change.
She said that Cheney probably had a viral upper respiratory infection, but that there was no cardiac or pulmonary problem behind his shortness of breath.
His cardiologist, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, said he suspects the vice president has a respiratory infection.
"The vice president, complaining of a productive cough and shortness of breath, was evaluated at George Washington Medical Center today," Reiner said in a statement issued by the White House. "Tests ruled out any cardiac cause of the vice president's symptoms. Tests also ruled out pneumonia and other pulmonary causes. The vice president likely has a viral upper respiratory infection."
Cheney, who has had four heart attacks, returned Thursday night from a pheasant hunting trip in South Dakota with a cold that had left him short of breath, Matalin said.
The vice president, who joined President Bush on Friday for meetings with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, felt fine otherwise, but his cardiologist, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, recommended as a precaution that he go to George Washington University Hospital for tests.
"Everything looks great," Matalin said before Cheney was released. "He's walking around from room to room in his street clothes just waiting for the blood work."
Bush was notified by his chief of staff, Andrew Card, shortly after Bush returned from a bike ride yesterday at a Secret Service training facility outside Washington, said a White House spokesman, Ken Lisaius.
In June 2001, a pacemaker was implanted in Cheney's chest. At his annual heart checkup on May 11, doctors determined that the pacemaker, called an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, was working fine and had not been needed to assist his heart.
The device is designed to activate automatically if needed to regulate a patient's heartbeat.
Ahead of the fall presidential campaign, Cheney dismissed speculation that his medical history might keep him from running again with Bush.
Cheney's first heart attack occurred in 1978, when he was 37. He had a second in 1984, and after suffering his third, in 1988, Cheney had quadruple bypass surgery.
On Nov. 22, 2000, Cheney suffered what doctors called a "very slight" heart attack, and was given an angioplasty procedure to open a clogged artery.
Cheney was back in the hospital on March 5, 2001. After his fourth heart attack, Cheney quit smoking and began exercising 30 minutes a day.