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Cheney treated for blood clot in his leg

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NEW: Doctors find blood clot in Vice President Dick Cheney's left leg
• Cheney had experienced pain in his left calf
• Doctors prescribed blood thinners
• The vice president has had a history of heart ailments
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Doctors found a blood clot in Vice President Dick Cheney's left leg Monday, Cheney's office said.

The vice president was given blood-thinning medication, which he will need to take for several months, and allowed to return to work, his office said.

Cheney visited his doctors at George Washington University after experiencing slight pain in his left calf, according to his spokeswoman, Megan McGinn.

Doctors performed an ultrasound and found a deep venous thrombosis, or DVT.

Complications from DVT kill up to 200,000 people in the United States each year, but the clots can be easily treated through medication.

"It can be a serious problem, especially untreated. Treated, it is very manageable, and the risk of a major problem on the proper treatment is small," according to Dr. Sean O'Donnell, director of vascular surgery at the Washington Hospital Center.

The vice president had returned to Washington early Wednesday after a trip to Australia and Central Asia. He visited his doctors "in light of his recent prolonged air travel," O'Donnell said.

Long-haul travel poses a risk for developing this type of clot, O'Donnell said.

The vice president has had a history of heart ailments, including four heart attacks dating back to 1978.

Cheney was hospitalized in January 2006 after suffering shortness of breath, and in September 2005 he had surgery to remove an aneurysm in an artery behind his right knee.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux contributed to this report.

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