HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — John Fetterman, Pennsylvania‘s lieutenant governor and a top Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, is recovering from a stroke he said was caused by a heart condition called atrial fibrillation.
Fetterman said in a statement Sunday that doctors believe he’s on his way to making “a full recovery.”
Here’s a look at what happened, the diagnosis, the future of Fetterman’s campaign and what can cause A-fib.
It was on Friday morning when Fetterman’s campaign first canceled an event. The campaign’s communications director, Joe Calvello, told scores of people waiting to see Fetterman at Millersville University that he hadn’t been feeling well that morning and had to cancel.
The campaign canceled more events Friday and through the weekend, saying nothing about his condition or whereabouts. They then revealed Sunday afternoon that he had suffered a stroke and was hospitalized.
In a 16-second video released by the campaign with the statement, Fetterman and his wife, Gisele, appear together, with Fetterman seated and speaking clearly.
“As you can see, we hit a little bump on the campaign trail,” she begins.
WILL THIS AFFECT HIS CANDIDACY?
Fetterman, 52, maintains that his candidacy will continue, that he’s feeling much better and that he’s expected to make a full recovery.
However, it’s not clear when he will get out of the hospital in Lancaster or whether he will attend the primary night event that his campaign had scheduled in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
Fetterman suffered the stroke in the busy sprint in the last days of the primary campaign, when he had a full schedule of travel and public events around the state.
While campaigns can slow down a bit in the weeks after a primary, the campaign did not say whether this will affect Fetterman’s schedule or what sort of doctors’ visits or medication will be required in the future.
Fetterman said the campaign itself “isn’t slowing down one bit.”
Nothing else changes. Fetterman remains in the race and on the ballot along with the three other Democratic candidates.
Fetterman said in the statement that he had a stroke that was caused by a clot from his heart being in “an A-fib rhythm for too long.” The doctors quickly and completely removed the clot, reversing the stroke, Fetterman said.
Blood can pool inside a pocket of the heart, allowing clots to form.
A-fib — or atrial fibrillation — occurs when the heart’s top chambers, called the atria, get out of sync with the bottom chambers’ pumping action. It’s a type of irregular heartbeat that’s potentially serious but treatable.
Sometimes patients feel a flutter or a racing heart but many times they’re not aware of an episode.
Sometimes the heart gets back into rhythm on its own. Other patients get an electric shock to get back into rhythm, or are prescribed blood thinners to counter the stroke-causing blood clots that untreated a-fib can spur. A-fib causes 130,000 deaths and 750,000 hospitalizations a year in the U.S.
Fetterman did not say by what method the doctors removed the clot.
HOW DO DOCTORS CHECK FOR IT?
A-fib is most common in older adults, and other risks include high blood pressure or a family history of arrhythmias.
But routine screening isn’t recommended for people without symptoms. Studies haven’t yet proved that early detection from screening would prevent enough strokes to outweigh risks from unnecessary testing or overtreatment.
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