Fetterman discloses previous heart condition, says he’s recovering
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. and Senate candidate John Fetterman failed to follow up with doctors after he was diagnosed with a previously undisclosed heart condition in 2017, he said on Friday.
Fetterman suffered a stroke last month just days before the Pennsylvania primaries. Despite the episode, he easily won the Democratic nomination to succeed retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), coasting to victory over his main primary rival, Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.).
Nevertheless, Fetterman said in a statement, he “almost died” as a result of that stroke, blaming his own failure to seek medical attention for his health issues.
In a statement Friday, Fetterman acknowledged that he had previously been told of a heart condition after he went to the hospital to treat swollen feet. He said that he failed to have the issue examined, because he “thought losing weight and exercising would be enough.”
“It’s not something I’m proud of, but it is something I hope that others can learn from. So please: listen to your body, and be aware of the signs. Because ignoring them—and avoiding the doctor because you might not like what they have to tell you—could cost you your life.
“I want to emphasize that this was completely preventable,” he continued. “My cardiologist said that if I had continued taking the blood thinners, I never would have had a stroke. I didn’t do what the doctor told me. But I won’t make that mistake again. Taking care of others is important but you must include yourself in there too.”
Fetterman’s campaign also released a letter from his cardiologist, Dr. Ramesh Chandra, saying that while atrial fibrillation was the cause of his stroke, he also has a condition called cardiomyopathy, a disease that makes it harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body.
Still, Chandra wrote, that condition shouldn’t pose any risk to Fetterman’s ability to campaign, so long as he follows his doctors’ advice.
“The prognosis I can give for John’s heart is this: if he takes his medications, eats healthy, and exercises, he’ll be fine,” Chandra wrote. “If he does what I’ve told him, and I do believe that he is taking his recovery and his health very seriously this time, he should be able to campaign and serve in the U.S. Senate without a problem.”
Fetterman also acknowledged that “it will take more time to get back on the campaign trail” and that he needs “a little more time” to recover from his stroke.
For now, however, his Republican rivals are locked in a battle of their own. Celebrity physician Mehmet Oz, who has the endorsement of former President Trump, and former hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick are in the midst of a recount after finishing within just about 1,000 votes of one another in last month’s primary.
The results of that recount are expected to be released on June 8.
The Senate race in Pennsylvania is among the most closely watched contests of the 2022 midterm elections. Republicans are defending the seat after Toomey announced his retirement, and Democrats are eager to pad out their paper-thin Senate majority in a state that President Biden only narrowly carried in 2020.