HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Dr. Mehmet OzRepublican U.S. Senate candidate in Pennsylvania has released his health records as he maneuvers to keep questions about his Democratic challenger John Fetterman’s recovery at bay from hitting front and center in the hotly contested campaign.
Dr. Rebecca Kurt of New York wrote in a four-page letter obtained by The Associated Press that she found the 62-year-old heart surgeon-turned-television celebrity to be in “excellent health” at an annual checkup Thursday.
The letter noted that Oz had total cholesterol that was “borderline elevated” but unchanged and noted a hyperplastic lesion — cellular growths that can become cancerous — removed from his colon in 2011. An electrocardiogram — a test that records electrical signals in the heart to detect heart problems — he had Thursday came out normal.
“Your exam is healthy and blood tests are favorable,” Kurt wrote. She did not recommend medication.
The release of the health records comes as Oz tries to plug the polling gap and has increasingly made Fetterman’s fitness a central issue in his campaign.
Fetterman, 53, has been tight-lipped about releasing medical records or giving reporters access to question his doctors more than four months after suffering a stroke in May that left lasting effects on his speech and hearing.
Fetterman’s campaign did not immediately comment Friday.
The presidential battleground race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey could help determine control of the deeply divided Senate, and Democrats see it as perhaps their best chance to pick up a seat in just a handful of close races nationally.
While it is common for presidential candidates to release health records, there is no such custom in US Senate races. Some US senators in the past have released medical records when they ran for president.
In a statement, Oz said he was releasing his medical records in the interest of transparency and that “voters should have complete transparency when it comes to the health status of candidates running for office.”
Oz, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, also questioned Fetterman’s veracity in revealing the lingering effects of his stroke.
Fetterman, the state’s lieutenant governor, said doctors expect him to make a full recovery from the stroke and that he is improving rapidly, cognitively intact and maintaining 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 stroke, Fetterman revealed he ‘almost died’ and released a statement from his cardiologist revealing that he had a serious and potentially fatal heart condition.
Fetterman campaigns and speaks at public events, but avoids reporters, speaks at times haltingly, slurs the occasional word and struggles to hear over the background noise and quickly process what he hears. He recently agreed to a debate against Ozwhich will take place on October 25, although Oz has been pushing for more.
Publicly, senior Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have sought to calm party nerves about Fetterman’s condition, saying they had spoken with him and were confident he was fit to serve.
Still, Fetterman gave reporters limited access to question him directly, doing only a few interviews after the stroke, all via closed-captioned video to help him with auditory processing.
In a 2016 Senate race in Illinois, Democrat Tammy Duckworth released years of medical records amid questions about the fitness of Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, who suffered a stroke in 2012.
Kirk was still suffering from the effects of the stroke four years later and, like Fetterman, did not provide access to his doctors or medical records. Still, Duckworth said during the debate that he thinks Kirk is capable of doing the job, but “the problem is he’s not doing it.”
Late in the race, Kirk’s campaign released a one-page letter from a treating doctor saying the senator had made a “full cognitive recovery” while still slurring his speech, dealing with limited use of his left leg and inability to use his left his hand, the Chicago Tribune reported at the time.
Ultimately, Kirk lost his re-election bid.
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