Dick Cheney: I Thought I Was Dying

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Thursday, 17 Oct 2013 11:47 AM

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Former vice president Dick Cheney has revealed how he was so close to death he said goodbye to his family and made plans for his own funeral.

"If this is dying, I remember thinking, it's not all that bad. I believed I was approaching the end of my days, but that didn't frighten me. I was pain free and at peace, and I had led a remarkable life," he reveals in his new book, "Heart: An American Medical Odyssey."

The New York Times describes the book, due out next Tuesday, as surprisingly revealing, coming from a politician who kept his 35-year-long struggle with coronary disease generally private.

Urgent: Is Your Heart Rate in the Danger Zone? Wear a Watch that Could Help Save Your Life

By the summer of 2010, Cheney, then aged 70, was in the final stages of heart failure. "My world was getting smaller and smaller," he wrote. After a 20-month wait, his life was saved by a heart transplant in 2012 that has also renewed his stamina.

Cheney had his first heart attack in 1978 when he was just 37. Two more followed in 1984 and 1988 and a fourth in November 2000 at the time the Florida recount that would elevate him to the vice presidency was still ongoing.

The need for secrecy was so great that he was booked into the hospital under the pseudonym Red Adair.

He crashed his car in 2009 after losing consciousness and soon after suffered the fifth heart attack that led to his transplant.

The book is written with his daughter Liz and cardiologist Dr. Jonathan Reiner. It reveals that on Sept. 11, 2001 while he was overseeing the White House response to the terrorist attacks, physicians received blood test results — which later proved flawed — that indicated he was in imminent risk of a heart attack.

Cheney credits his survival to American medicine. In a clear swipe at the provisions of Obamacare, he writes, "The health care system that produced such rapid development and has driven the dramatic reduction in the incidence of death from heart disease over the past 40 years is a national treasure and deserves to be preserved and protected."

He depicts his heart transplant in nearly spiritual terms.

"Well, if that's true," the photographer David Hume Kennerly, who is a friend asked, "are you now a Democrat?"

Urgent: Is Your Heart Rate in the Danger Zone? Wear a Watch that Could Help Save Your Life

"It wasn't that spiritual," Cheney answered.

Related stories:

Conservative Super-PAC Ad Hits Liz Cheney on Gay Marriage

Reversing Heart Disease

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