(PHILADELPHIA, Penn.) — Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman’s health “has continued to improve” and he is speaking “without cognitive deficits” months after a stroke, the Democrat’s primary-care physician wrote in a report released Wednesday by his campaign.
“Overall, Lt. Governor Fetterman is well and shows strong commitment to maintaining good fitness and health practices. He has no work restrictions and can work full duty in public office,” wrote Clifford Chen, a Pittsburgh-area doctor who began serving as Fetterman’s physician in May, according to the report.
In a visit on Friday, Chen took Fetterman’s blood pressure and heart rate, which he declared “normal,” and performed lab tests that returned “good” results.
Fetterman is taking “appropriate medications to optimize his heart condition and prevent future strokes,” Chen wrote in the report.
The lieutenant governor’s health has been heavily discussed in this crucial Senate race — in the wake of the stroke he had in May — and his Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, has repeatedly pressured Fetterman to release updated medical records.
“He’s refused his medical records to be released,” Oz, a former surgeon and TV host, said in an interview on Fox News last week. “So when I’m asked if he’s improving or not, I don’t know because nobody knows.”
Since returning to the campaign trail later in the summer, Fetterman has acknowledged having issues with auditory processing of language and has been using closed-captioning systems in some situations. He has also been working with a speech therapist.
ABC previously spoke with independent neurologists who said that, generally, post-stroke language issues do not imply cognitive impairments.
Oz’s campaign welcomed Wednesday’s disclosure from Fetterman’s doctor and used it to call for Fetterman to participate in a second debate (the candidates are set to face off next week in Harrisburg, the only scheduled debate between them).
“That’s good news that John Fetterman’s doctor gave him a clean bill of health,” said Rachel Tripp, an Oz communications adviser, before repeating attacks on Fetterman’s record such as his stance on crime. “Now that he apparently is healthy, he can debate for 90 minutes, start taking live questions from voters and reporters, and do a second debate now too,” Tripp said.
Before Wednesday, the last time Fetterman’s campaign had released information from someone on his medical staff was June, weeks after his mid-May stroke, in which a different doctor, Ramesh Chandra, wrote that he “should be able to campaign and serve in the U.S. Senate without a problem.”
The campaign received some criticism for not disclosing the stroke until two days after it happened, with polls closing in the Democratic primary just days later.
Fetterman’s team has said his stroke was the result of a condition called atrial fibrillation, or irregular heart rhythm, which led to a clot; he subsequently had a pacemaker and defibrillator implanted.
“On Friday, John went to his primary care physician for a check-up – and unfortunately for Dr. Oz, it was nothing but good news,” Rebecca Katz, a Fetterman campaign advisor, said in a statement.
“This must be crushing news for Oz, who has been rooting against John’s recovery and staked his entire campaign on it,” she argued.
President Joe Biden is expected to campaign with Fetterman in Philadelphia on Thursday.
Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.