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Is It True that Dick Cheney Has No Heartbeat?

Yes, it's true: Former Vice President Dick Cheney has no pulse.

Several months ago, Cheney underwent surgery to have a mechanical pump implanted in his chest which effectively took over the duties of his failing heart. Known as a ventricular assist device, the pump pushes blood continuously through his circulatory system instead of mimicking the heart's pulsations . Thus it leaves Cheney with no heartbeat.

According to the New York Times, patients like Cheney "are urged to wear bracelets or other identifications to alert emergency room doctors as to why they have no pulse."

Usually, ventricular assist devices serve as temporary stop-gaps while patients await heart transplants. As of Jan. 17, Cheney was considering heart transplant surgery, but had not yet decided whether to seek it. For now, his blood circulates in silence.

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Natalie Wolchover
Natalie Wolchover

Natalie Wolchover was a staff writer for Live Science from 2010 to 2012 and is currently a senior physics writer and editor for Quanta Magazine. She holds a bachelor's degree in physics from Tufts University and has studied physics at the University of California, Berkeley. Along with the staff of Quanta, Wolchover won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory writing for her work on the building of the James Webb Space Telescope. Her work has also appeared in the The Best American Science and Nature Writing and The Best Writing on Mathematics, Nature, The New Yorker and Popular Science. She was the 2016 winner of the  Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award, an annual prize for young science journalists, as well as the winner of the 2017 Science Communication Award for the American Institute of Physics.