The New York Times this week carries a story about a type of heart surgery former Vice President Dick Cheney recently underwent. Cheney is currently recovering from a procedure that involved doctors installing a ventricular assist device to keep his heart pumping. NYT reports that this kind of pump is being given to a growing number of people with severe heart failure. Having suffered five heart attacks (the first when he was 37-years-old), Cheney has undergone surgeries for a quadruple by-pass, coronary artery stenting, urgent coronary balloon angioplasty, and the implantation of an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator.
The particular model Cheney has is about the size of a D battery, is powered by batteries that are about 4-by-6 inches and connected by a wire that goes through the skin. Though it's not a cure and doesn't replace the heart (the pump usually acts as a temporary solution while waiting for a donor heart), it does have a unique side effect on the patient it's implanted in. According to NYT, because it pushes blood continuously, most patients with this kind of implant don't have a pulse.
In case of medical emergencies, Mr. Cheney will have to wear a special bracelet highlighting why he doesn't have a pulse like the rest of us.
Read more about these kinds of implants on the New York Times.