decision 2022

‘Almost Died': Fetterman Details Stroke; Doctor Gives Positive Prognosis

“The stroke I suffered on May 13 didn’t come out of nowhere,” Fetterman said. “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 in a press release

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United States Senate candidate John Fetterman will be off the campaign trail for a while longer as he continues recovering from a stroke, but his doctor says he will be able to serve in the chamber if elected – if he follows medical guidance.

Fetterman, the Democratic candidate to fill retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey’s seat, acknowledged in a press release Friday that he “almost died” following a stroke last month. In a letter, his cardiologist, Dr. Ramesh Chandra, said the stroke was caused by a heart condition known as atrial fibrillation first diagnosed in 2017.

“The stroke I suffered on May 13 didn’t come out of nowhere,” Fetterman said. “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.”

Chandra said he first saw Fetterman in 2017 after Fetterman experienced swollen feet. That’s when the doctor said he diagnosed the current Pennsylvania lieutenant governor as having an irregular heart rhythm and decreased heart pump.

Chandra said he prescribed medication and an improved diet and exercise and asked Fetterman to return for a follow-up visit. Instead, Chandra said, he didn’t see Fetterman again until June 2 of this year – as a follow-up to the stroke.

“John did not go to any doctor for 5 years and did not continue taking his medications,” Chandra wrote.

Following his stroke, Fetterman also underwent successful pacemaker implant surgery. Chandra said the device “is working perfectly” and his patient “is doing well.”

Chandra said that if Fetterman 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 recovery and his health very seriously this time, he should be able to campaign and serve in the U.S. Senate without a problem,” the doctor said.

Fetterman, meanwhile, said he will stay off the campaign trail a bit longer so he can fully recover.

“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,” he said.

Fetterman will take on either Dave McCormick or Mehmet Oz in November's general election. Both Republican candidates were locked in a recount battle until McCormick surprisingly conceded late Friday.

For all the candidates, issues and important dates that voters should know about in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, go to NBC10's Decision 2022 page. You'll find tools to help you navigate the midterm elections, including when to vote and who will be on your ballots in the primaries and November general elections.

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