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John Fetterman's health and heart condition still unaddressed


BRADDOCK, Pennsylvania —Despite numerous editorials from local newspapers across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as well as the Washington Post, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s campaign still refuses to release updates on his medical condition. That includes not just the aftereffects from his stroke earlier this year but also an update on the heart condition that caused it.

After Fetterman suffered a stroke in Lancaster on May 13, he had a pacemaker and defibrillator implanted to control his heart’s irregular rhythms. At the time, his campaign described it as a standard procedure that would address “the underlying cause of his stroke, atrial fibrillation.”

Fetterman admitted in June, one month after his heart surgery, that the incident in May had not been the first time he suffered symptoms of a heart condition. In 2017, Dr. Ramesh Chandra of Alliance Cardiology diagnosed him with atrial fibrillation — an irregular heart rhythm. He prescribed medication, along with an improved diet and exercise, and told Fetterman to follow up in a couple of months.

For the next five years, Fetterman chose to let the problem go untreated. He has admitted that he did not return to Chandra for a follow-up, nor did he even take the medicine he was prescribed. He ran for lieutenant governor in 2018 and then in the primary for U.S. Senate this year without revealing his condition.

Chandra said in a statement released by Fetterman's campaign that Fetterman had failed to follow up after an initial visit. The first time he saw the Democratic candidate was this June. "John did not go to any doctor for five years and did not continue taking his medications,” said Chandra's statement.

The evidence of the stroke’s impact is now manifest. Fetterman struggles to speak at his campaign rallies. He relies on tropes, such as talking about New Jersey, crudites, and banning the filibuster, rather than speaking extemporaneously on current issues. His symptoms have never been addressed by the medical experts who are treating him. No doctor has spoken publicly about his condition outside of the letter released by his cardiologist in June. No doctor has taken questions about him from the media.

Can this man serve the state effectively as senator for the full six-year term? The lack of transparency from a candidate whose advisers have called him “authentic, straight-talking, no-B.S. populist” has left Pennsylvania voters in the dark.

The extent of his current heart condition is also unknown. According to Yale Medicine, the clinical practice for the Yale School of Medicine, cardiomyopathy can weaken the heart, leading to more serious conditions, including lessened blood flow, arrhythmia problems with the heart's valves, and heart failure.

Yale Medicine said cardiomyopathies require management of any present symptoms and prevention of further complications. Fetterman failed to do these things, having avoided treatment for the five years leading up to his stroke.

The best prognosis for cardiomyopathy begins with medication, followed by a defibrillator to control heart rhythms. If that fails, the standard of care involves a surgical procedure to remove damaged areas of the heart.

In rare circumstances, a heart transplant could be performed, depending on the severity of the case and the success or failure of other treatments.

Fetterman's campaign failed to answer questions before deadline on who had done the candidate's surgery in May and whether he has done any follow-up since. A request for an update on his heart condition, along with his condition following his stroke, also went unanswered.

The Republican nominee for Senate, Dr. Mehmet Oz, told the Washington Examiner that he would be releasing his current medical records on Friday.