Oz releases health records to highlight Fettermann's stroke

Oz releases health records to highlight Fettermann’s stroke

Written by Mark Levy, The Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Associated Press) – Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican candidate for the US Senate in Pennsylvania, released his health records as he maneuvered to keep questions about Democratic challenger John Fetterman’s recovery from a stroke at the front and center of the hotly contested campaign.

New York City-based Dr. Rebecca Court wrote in a four-page letter that she found the 62-year-old cardiac surgeon-turned-television star of “excellent health” at an annual checkup Thursday.

The letter noted that Oz had a “high” total cholesterol but could be treated through diet, and noted that in 2010 he had a metastasis – a tumor that can sometimes become cancerous – removed from his colon. An electrocardiogram – a test that records electrical signals in the heart to detect heart problems – Thursday was normal.

“Your examination is healthy, and the blood tests are favorable,” Kurth wrote. She did not recommend any medication.

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The release of health records comes as Oz tries to fill a gap in opinion polls and increases Fitterman’s fitness to serve a central theme in his campaign.

Fetterman, 53, has been silent about releasing medical records or giving journalists access to question his doctors, more than four months after suffering a stroke in May that had lingering effects on his speech and hearing.

The Washington Post and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Fetterman editorial boards have called for the release of the medical records after he refused to discuss Oz more than once. This should include cognitive tests and making his doctors available to reporters, the Post Gazette said.

She said Oz should release his medical records as well – a request that Oz quickly agreed to.

“Voters should have complete transparency when it comes to the health status of candidates vying for office,” Oz said in a statement. Oz, a heart surgeon, is best known for “The Dr. Oz Show,” which he hosted on daytime television for 13 years.

Once again, Fetterman’s campaign has not committed to releasing records or making access to his doctors on Friday.

Instead, he attacked Oz in a statement that resurrected some of the themes Fetterman presented during the campaign — including highlighting long-standing criticism that Oz often promoted questionable products and medical advice on his show.

“In June, I issued a letter from my doctor clearly stating that I am eligible to serve,” Fetterman said in the statement. “Dr. Oz built his entire career by lying to people about health. I trust my real doctors on the opinion of a charlatan he played on TV.”

Fetterman was receiving speech therapy and a letter from his cardiologist said he would be fine and able to serve in the Senate if he ate healthy foods, took prescribed medications, and exercised.

The race on the presidential battlefield to replace retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey could help determine control of the closely divided Senate, and Democrats see it as perhaps their best chance for a seat among a few close races nationwide.

While it is customary for presidential candidates to publish health records, there is no such custom in races for the US Senate. Some US senators, in the past, have published medical records when they run for president.

Oz, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, also questioned Fetterman’s credibility in disclosing the effects of his stroke.

Fetterman, the state’s deputy governor, stresses that doctors expect him to make a full recovery from the stroke and that he improve quickly, be cognitively unaffected and maintain the healthiest habits of his life.

Fetterman suffered a stroke on May 13, four days before he easily won the Democratic primary. His victory came hours after he underwent surgery to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator. Three weeks after the stroke, Fetterman revealed he “almost died” and a cardiologist’s letter revealed he had a serious and possibly fatal heart condition.

Fetterman has been campaigning and speaking at public events, but he speaks hesitantly at times, jumbled up the occasional word and struggles to hear background noise and quickly process what he hears. He recently agreed to a one-on-one discussion against Oz, which will take place on October 25, although Oz lobbied for more.

Fetterman will receive a written commentary in the discussion, but the candidates are still squabbling over terms. It pays Oz to expand it to 90 minutes, from 60 minutes, to account for any delays from closed captions.

Publicly, top Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have sought to calm party nerves over Fetterman’s condition, saying they are confident he can serve.

However, Fetterman has given reporters limited access to question him directly, having given only a few interviews since the stroke, all via video with closed captions to assist him with audio processing.

In a 2016 Senate contest in Illinois, Democrat Tammy Duckworth released years of medical records when there were questions about the fitness of US Republican Senator Mark Kirk, who suffered a stroke in 2012.

Kirk was still suffering from the effects of a stroke four years later and, like Fetterman, did not provide access to his doctors or medical records. However, Duckworth said during a debate that she believes Kirk can do the job but “the problem is he doesn’t.”

Late in the race, Kirk’s campaign released a one-page letter from a attending physician saying the senator had “complete cognitive recovery” while still speaking hesitantly, dealing with limited use of his left leg and inability to use his left arm, the Chicago Tribune reported in that time.

Kirk ended up losing his reelection bid.

Associated Press medical writer Laurent Niergaard contributed to this report. Follow Mark Levy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/timelywriter.

Follow the Associated Press for full coverage of the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ap_politics.

Copyright 2022 News agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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