WASHINGTON – Vice President Dick Cheney has a mild case of esophagitis and some small dilation of the arteries behind both knees, his office said Saturday after he completed a two-part annual physical.
Cheney, 64, was at George Washington University Hospital (search) for a colonoscopy, an upper endoscopy and vascular screening. The procedures completed his yearly medical checkup.
In the first part of the exam last week, an annual heart checkup produced good news for Cheney, who has had four heart attacks, though none since he become vice president in 2001.
The latest tests found Cheney's colon, or large intestine, to be normal, according to statement from his spokeswoman, Lea Anne McBride (search).
The endoscopy "indicated mild esophagitis" or swelling or irritation of the esophagus, the tube that leads from the back of the mouth to the stomach. The statement did not elaborate on the cause of Cheney's condition.
Esophagitis frequently occurs when acid-containing fluid flows from the stomach back into the esophagus. Other possible causes include excessive vomiting, surgery and some medications.
Cheney's vascular exam also "identified small, dilated segments of the arteries behind both knees."
The vice president "is awaiting final recommendations from his medical team," the statement said.
While no further information was available on the specifics of the Cheney case, a consumer information Internet site run by the Harvard Medical School (search) says acid reflex is "by far the most common cause of esophagitis" and that it often can be prevented by "some very simple measures" such as avoiding heavy meals and is typically treated with anti-acid medications.
Likewise, it was not clear what his doctors would recommend regarding the small dilated segments of arteries, but his overall cardio health was judged good after the first part of his annual exam earlier this month that included a general physical exam, an electrocardiogram and a stress test.
"The vice president's cardiac status remains stable; his (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) neither detected nor treated any arrhythmia; his exercise capacity continues to be excellent; and his stress test is unchanged," said Cheney spokeswoman Jennifer Mayfield after the July 8 tests.
Cheney walked briskly out of the hospital Saturday and waved to the assembled news media before getting into a car that took him back to his official residence near the Naval Observatory.
Cheney's heart checkup last week found that a pacemaker implanted in his chest in June 2001 was working fine and that it has never had to be activated. The device, called an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, is designed to activate automatically if needed to regulate a patient's heartbeat.