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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 was a staff writer for Live Science from 2010 to 2012. She hold a bachelor's degree in physics from Tufts University and has studied physics at the University of California, Berkeley. Follow Natalie on Google+.