Cheney Surgery Could Revive Health Issue
Vice President Dick Cheney's planned surgery this afternoon to correct an abnormal heart rhythm might put the health issue -- and Sen. John McCain's age and bouts with cancer -- back in the presidential campaign spotlight.
Cheney, who at 67 has a history of heart problems, has suffered four heart attacks over the past 30 years, The Post's Dan Eggen notes.
More notably, since he's been in office, Cheney has undergone a number of procedures, including: having a defibrillator implanted and replaced; surgery to treat aneurysms behind his knees; and hospital visits after feeling shortness of breath and the development of a blood clot in his leg after a long trip to Asia.
Electric shock also was administered to his heart last November to restore its rhythm.
McCain, the Arizona senator who is running for president as a Republican at age 72, has suffered three bouts of skin cancer. He is seeking to become the oldest person ever elected president. In May, his campaign released nearly 1,200 pages of McCain's medical records since 2000 (albeit only to a select pool of reporters for a three-hour window and without the ability to make copies).
The records showed that McCain has been relatively healthy and cancer-free since August 2000, when he had a five-hour operation to remove his most severe case of melanoma, a form of skin cancer that can prove fatal if it spreads.
Physicians examine the senator's skin every three or four months and McCain has had more than a dozen patches of abnormal skin cut out or chemically destroyed in the past decade.
In addition to his battles with cancer, McCain has been treated for kidney and bladder stones; undergone surgery for an enlarged prostate; been evaluated several times for dizziness originating in the inner ear; had four colonoscopies, two exercise stress tests and innumerable CAT scans and blood analyses. He also has been treated for slightly elevated cholesterol, arthritis and noncancerous polyps in the colon. But his doctors described his various ailments as "minor."
Back in 1999, during McCain's first bid for the Oval Office, his campaign also carefully released the senator's medical records. The New York Times' Lawrence K. Altman, a doctor himself, evaluated the records, saying they provided an unusually broad psychological profile of McCain, who spent five years in a prisoner-of-war camp after his Navy jet was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967. (The McCain campaign did not allow Altman and The Times to review the candidate's medical records this year.)
In the documents reviewed by The Times, a Navy doctor said McCain "adjusted exceptionally well to repatriation" and had "an ambitious, striving, successful pattern of adjustment."
During his captivity, where McCain was held in solitary confinement for three years, he was interrogated repeatedly, beaten and suffered fractures. McCain referred to the experience as "mentally deteriorating" but his doctors insisted that he had never been diagnosed or treated for any psychological or psychiatric disorder.
McCain also learned to control his temper and not to become angry over "insignificant things," the doctors concluded. (This is interesting given McCain's infamous temper, which The Post's Michael Leahy wrote about last April. Leahy wrote that while some found McCain to be "an erratic hothead incapable of staying cool in the face of what he views as either disloyalty to him or irrational opposition to his ideas," others "praise a firebrand who is resolute against the forces of greed and gutlessness.")
Meanwhile, McCain's younger opponent, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), has not released his own medical records, although his doctor gave Obama a clean bill of health (a one-page letter PDF), noting that he has struggled to quit smoking but uses Nicorette gum "with success."
By Derek Kravitz |
October 15, 2008; 2:09 PM ET
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