Fetterman Concedes Heart Condition: 'I Almost Died'

Doctor: Pa. Dem Senate nominee, who has atrial fibrillation, cardiomyopathy, will be OK if vigilant
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 4, 2022 10:00 AM CDT
Fetterman Concedes Heart Condition: 'I Almost Died'
Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman, who won the Democratic nomination to run for the US Senate for Pennsylvania, is seen at a campaign stop on May 10, 2022, in Greensburg, Pa.   (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

(Newser) – If the recent status of John Fetterman's health has been a "mystery," a little bit more of that mystery has now been clarified. The Democratic nominee for US Senate out of Pennsylvania has been resting up since he suffered a stroke last month, but while his health issues may have come as a surprise to the public, they weren't a complete surprise to the 52-year-old lieutenant governor, or to the heart doctor he saw back in 2017. The Washington Post reports that's the year when cardiologist Ramesh Chandra diagnosed Fetterman with "atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm, along with a decreased heart pump," per a letter from Chandra released Friday by Fetterman's campaign. Chandra says at the time of the original diagnosis, he prescribed meds to Fetterman, told him to keep a healthy diet and exercise, and instructed him to come back in a few months for a follow-up.

"I did not see him again until yesterday," Chandra notes, referring to his checkup with Fetterman on Thursday, adding that Fetterman hadn't seen any doctor for five years and had stopped taking his meds. He says that Fetterman has also now been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle that makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood. That said, Chandra notes the Senate candidate now has a pacemaker and is currently "well compensated and stable." He adds that, so long as Fetterman takes his meds, watches his diet, and exercises, "he'll be fine" and won't have an issue running for and serving in the Senate. "The stroke I suffered on May 13 didn't come out of nowhere," Fetterman conceded in a Friday statement, per the Post. "Like so many others, and so many men in particular, I avoided going to the doctor, even though I knew I didn't feel well. As a result, I almost died."

Fetterman appears to be taking medical advice more seriously this time around. "I didn’t do what the doctor told me" the first time, he said in his statement. "But I won't make that mistake again." The paper notes that, under state law, Fetterman has till Aug. 15 to withdraw as a Senate candidate if he needs to, and that Democratic Party bylaws dictate a backup nominee would need to be selected within 30 days of such an exit. However, Fetterman hasn't indicated he's planning on withdrawing, and other Dems in the state seem determined he stay in the race to face off against GOP nominee Mehmet Oz. "You want to replace someone who won every county? No," former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell tells the Post, calling Fetterman "the best retail politician" the state has seen in 20 years. (Read more John Fetterman stories.)

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