Cheney victim has heart irregularity after birdshot moves into his heart

The 78-year-old lawyer who was shot by Vice President Dick Cheney in a hunting accident has some birdshot in or touching his heart and he had "a silent heart attack" Tuesday morning, hospital officials said.

The victim, Harry Whittington, was immediately moved back to the intensive care unit for further treatment, said Peter Banko, the administrator at Christus Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial in Texas.

Banko said doctors conducting a regular check up on Whittington Tuesday morning discovered an irregularity in the heartbeat caused by a pellet, and they performed a cardiac catheterization. Whittington was in stable condition after treatment and expressed a desire to leave the hospital, but Banko said they would probably keep him for another week to make sure more shot doesn't move to other vital organs.

Cheney watched the news conference where doctors described Whittington's complications. Then the vice president called him, wished him well and asked if there was anything that he needed.

A statement from Cheney's office said, "The vice president said that he stood ready to assist. Mr. Whittington's spirits were good, but obviously his situation deserves the careful monitoring that his doctors are providing."

Cheney, an experienced hunter, has not spoken publicly about the accident. Critics of the Bush administration called for more answers from Cheney himself.

The dustup over the accident and when it was made public "is part of the secretive nature of this administration," said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. "I think it's time the American people heard from the vice president."

The accident was fodder for jokes on late night televvision early Tuesday at the White House, before news surfaced about problems with Whittington's hear, reports AP.

O.Ch.