John Fetterman Releases Doctor’s Note After Stroke, Reveals He ‘Almost Died’

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee in November’s Senate race, released a doctor’s note Friday in response to widespread questions about his health in the aftermath of a stroke.

Fetterman suffered the stroke May 13, less than a week before he would go on to win Pennsylvania’s Senate primary in a landslide over Rep. Conor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta. Fetterman has not appeared publicly since his hospitalization, however, and doctors’ decision to implant a pacemaker caused many observers to suspect that his condition was more dire than his wife and campaign said. Some Democrats have even looked into replacing Fetterman on the ballot should he be unable to campaign, NBC News reported.

Dr. Ramesh Chandra, a Pittsburgh-based cardiologist, revealed in the letter that he first diagnosed Fetterman with atrial fibrillation and a decreased heart pump in 2017. However, Chandra wrote, Fetterman did not continue taking the medication Chandra prescribed him and did not go to any other doctor until his stroke in mid-May. Chandra added a new diagnosis of cardiomyopathy was the reason that doctors inserted the pacemaker.

“If he takes his medications, eats healthy, and exercises, he’ll be fine. If he does what I’ve told him, and I do believe that he is taking his health very seriously this time, he should be able to campaign and serve in the U.S. Senate without a problem,” Chandra wrote.

Fetterman revealed in a statement that the stroke was much more serious than his wife and campaign previously let on, and expressed regret that he had not continued to receive medical care after his initial diagnosis. (RELATED: Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen Suffers Stroke Mid-Speech, Gets Sent To Hospital)

“As my doctor said, I should have taken my health more seriously. The stroke I suffered on May 13 didn’t come out of nowhere. 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. I want to encourage others to not make the same mistake,” he said.

“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,” Fetterman added.

In his absence, Fetterman’s wife Gisele has served as his chief surrogate, issuing statements on his behalf. Democratic Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey has also appeared at events for him.