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Cheney feared terrorist heart attack

Former US vice president turned off wireless function of implanted defibrillator so it could not be hacked to kill him.

Last Modified: 19 Oct 2013 00:28
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Cheney has had five heart attacks [AP]

Dick Cheney, the former US vice president, said he disabled the wireless function of his heart defibrillator because he feared terrorists would hack it to give him a heart attack.

Cheney, George W Bush's right-hand-man in the so-called "war on terror", said the device's function was disabled by his cardiologist Jonathan Reiner in 2007, in case a terrorist tried to send his heart a fatal shock.

The scenario is similar to a plot line in the television programme, Homeland, where a renegade US soldier helps hack a device in the body of the US vice-president to give him a fatal shock.

Cheney, who disabled his device before Homeland was broadcast, told CBS's 60 Minutes programme he thought the plot line was "credible". 

"I was aware of the danger that existed... I found it credible. I know from the experience we had, and the necessity for adjusting my own device, that it was an accurate portrayal of what was possible.''

The CBS interview is broadcast in America on Sunday.

Cheney has had five heart attacks, the first of which happened when he was 37. He underwent a heart transplant nearly two years ago aged 71.

An internal defibrillator can detect irregular heartbeats and control them with electrical jolts. Its wireless function allows medical staff to monitor a patient's condition.

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