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“I almost died,” Fetterman says as the Senate campaign heats up

HARRISBURG, Pa. – John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee for the US Senate in Pennsylvania who is recovering from a stroke, said Friday that he nearly died from the episode after years of ignoring warning signs and a doctor’s advice to take blood thinners would have.

Speaking in a statement released by his campaign, Fetterman stayed out of the public eye as he rebounded ahead of the fall general election in what is expected to be the nation’s most important Senate contest.

“The stroke I suffered on May 13 didn’t come out of nowhere,” Fetterman said, and “as a result, I almost died. I want to encourage others not to make the same mistake.”

In a separate statement released Friday as part of his campaign, Fetterman’s cardiologist revealed that Fetterman suffers from cardiomyopathy, in which the heart muscle becomes weakened and enlarged. Cardiomyopathy can impede blood flow and potentially cause heartbeats that are so irregular they can be fatal.

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The endorsement marked the first public comment for Fetterman from a doctor since the contestant first announced on social media on May 15 that he was having a stroke.

Fetterman, 52, easily won the Democratic nomination in a four-way race while in hospital four days after the stroke and just a few hours after an operation to implant a cardiac pacemaker with defibrillator.

The stroke has raised questions about Fetterman’s eligibility to run for office, including the possible lingering effects of the stroke.

Already, attack ads are flying in the running, even as a Republican primary in the Senate is stuck in a nationwide recountmore than two weeks after the election.

Former hedge fund CEO David McCormick on Friday night conceded this race to the famous heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz as he conceded that the recount would not give him enough votes to make up the deficit. The Associated Press has not yet declared a winner because of the recount.

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Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, has not said when he will return to campaigning and did not show up to chair state Senate sessions last week.

Fetterman said doctors told him to continue resting, eating well, exercising and focusing on his recovery, “and that’s what I’m doing.”

Fetterman admitted he ignored warning signs after seeing the doctor for swollen feet in 2017 and learning he had a heart condition.

The cardiologist, Dr. Ramesh Chandra told him that if he had continued to take blood thinners, he would never have had a stroke, Fetterman said.

Chandra said Fetterman will do well if he eats a healthy diet, takes prescribed medications, and exercises.

Fetterman has been open about his attempts to lose weight in the past. At 6ft 8, he weighed over 400 pounds before losing nearly 150 pounds in 2018 while running for lieutenant governor.

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He said he thought – wrongly – that losing weight and exercising would be enough.

Fetterman has said his stroke was caused by a heart condition called atrial fibrillation and that doctors implanted the pacemaker on May 17 to manage it.

Doctors removed the clot in Fetterman’s brain through a thrombectomy, his campaign said. That means extracting it by inserting a catheter through a large artery, usually in the groin.

However, as of Friday, Fetterman had not answered questions about why doctors had implanted a defibrillator.

Chandra said the defibrillator, which delivers corrective shocks when he senses life-threatening irregular rhythms, was implanted for Fetterman’s cardiomyopathy.

Fetterman has not made any public appearances, other than a few brief videos of him posted on social media on May 15, speaking at the hospital left a week later.

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Fetterman saw his neurologist Wednesday, campaign spokesman Joe Calvello said.

The neurologist was impressed with Fetterman’s progress, saying that cognitively, John is “perfect and well on his way to a full recovery,” Calvello said.

Fetterman is not paralyzed from the stroke and is on his feet, walking around running errands and on the phone with staff, Calvello said.

Fetterman’s neurologist did not speak to reporters.

according to dr Matt Starr, associate director of the UMPC Stroke Institute, most stroke victims suffer from some form of physical impairment.

The long-term physical symptoms of a stroke range from mild muscle weakness through muscle stiffness and spasms to complete paralysis, typically on one side of the body.

When a stroke causes physical impairment, “the greatest recovery occurs in the first three months after the stroke,” said Dr. Mitchell Elkind, a Columbia University neurologist and past president of the American Heart Association.

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Most stroke victims show at least some signs of recovery, and full recovery is possible, Elkind said.

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https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/06/03/doctor-pennsylvanias-fetterman-also-has-cardiomyopathy/ “I almost died,” Fetterman says as the Senate campaign heats up

Sarah Y. Kim

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