Former Vice President Dick Cheney underwent heart surgery last week to implant a mechanical pump and is recuperating, according to a statement issued to Reuters. Cheney has a long history of heart disease, most recently his fifth heart attack in February. He had his first attack at age 37. "A few weeks ago, it became clear that I was entering a new phase of the disease when I began to experience increasing congestive heart failure," Cheney said in the statement. "After a series of recent tests and discussions with my doctors, I decided to take advantage of one of the new technologies available." The device is the Left Ventricular Assist Device, a battery-operated, mechanical pump implanted into the upper abdomen. It helps maintain the pumping ability of a heart that can't effectively work on its own, according to the American Heart Association. The association calls the device a "bridge to transplant," because patients awaiting a heart transplant often have one implanted. It "can help a weak heart and buy time' for the patient," according to the association's website. Cheney's statement did not say whether he needs a transplant, but he said the pump will improve his heart function and "will enable me to resume an active life."