(WHTM) – Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor and Democratic U.S. Senate nominee John Fetterman released a statement from himself and his doctor three weeks after he suffered a stroke acknowledging he has cardiomyopathy.
Fetterman, who spent several days in the hospital, has not been seen in public since being discharged and has only appeared in social media videos.
In the letter from Fetterman’s doctor Ramesh R. Chandra, MD, FAAC, the prognosis for Fetterman was that “if he takes his medications, eats healthy, and exercises, he’ll be fine.”
Cardiomyopathy can impede blood flow and potentially cause heartbeats so irregular they can be fatal.
Dr. Chandra added that Fetterman should be able to campaign and serve in the U.S. Senate if he takes his health seriously.
Fetterman, who handily won the Democratic primary days after being hospitalized, acknowledged being diagnosed with a heart condition in 2017 but not following up with doctors.
Below is a statement from Lt. Gov. John Fetterman:
“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.
“Back in 2017, I had swollen feet and went to the hospital to get checked out. That’s when I learned I had a heart condition. Then, I didn’t follow up. I thought losing weight and exercising would be enough. Of course it wasn’t.
“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. 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.
“Doctors have told me I need to continue to rest, eat healthy, exercise, and focus on my recovery, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. It will take some more time to get back on the campaign trail like I was in the lead-up to the primary. It’s frustrating – all the more so because this is my own fault – but bear with me, I need a little more time. I’m not quite back to 100% yet, but I’m getting closer every day.
“This race is so important for Pennsylvania and for the country. I’m going to be ready for it, and I can’t wait to get back on the trail.”
Fetterman said that his stroke was caused by a heart condition called atrial fibrillation and that doctors implanted the pacemaker on May 17 to manage it.
However, questions have swirled about what effects Fetterman continues to suffer from the stroke and why doctors implanted a defibrillator along with a pacemaker.
Chandra said the defibrillator, which delivers corrective shocks when it senses life-threatening irregular rhythms, was implanted because of Fetterman’s cardiomyopathy.
Fetterman’s opponent in the November general election is not finalized with former heart surgeon Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick in a recount. Oz has declared victory and is leading by less than 1,000 votes.
The recount must be completed by June 7.
The Associated Press contributed to this report