Cardiologist: Bernie Sanders Hiding a Key Metric of His Heart Health

DURHAM, NEW HAMPSHIRE - FEBRUARY 10: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a campaign event at the Whittemore Center Arena on February 10, 2020 in Durham, New Hampshire. The state's Democratic primary is tomorrow. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Democrat presidential primary frontrunner Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is withholding a key indicator regarding his heart health after suffering a heart attack on the campaign trail, a leading cardiologist said Monday.

Dr. Richard Kovacs, president of the American College of Cardiology, said Sanders has not released metrics on the left ventricular ejection fraction, which measures the blood volume that the heart pushes out with each heartbeat. This indicator tracks the likelihood of future heart events and patients’ mortality rate.

“Normally the heart will push out 60 percent,” he told NBC News. “If you go down to 40 or 50 percent, we regard that as mild impairment of the left ventricle. Thirty to 40 percent would be moderate. If you get to 30 percent, that would be severe.”

Despite Kovacs’ comments, Sanders has refused to provide additional information about his health after releasing what the senator claimed was a “comprehensive” medical records report.

“I think we have released a detailed medical report, and I’m comfortable on what we have done,” the 78-year-old said during a CNN town hall event last Tuesday evening.

Questions about Sanders’ health have lingered ever since he checked into a Las Vegas hospital with chest discomfort on Oct. 1 and had two stents inserted.

His campaign did not acknowledge that he had suffered a heart attack until his release several days later. After pledging to divulge a detailed accounting of his well-being, the campaign waited until New Year’s Eve to put out letters from three doctors attesting to his health — a move traditionally deployed to avoid scrutiny.

Fellow 2020 Democrat candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had two stents inserted into his heart in 2000, though he did not have a cardiac episode.

“He’s released as much or more than any other candidate on that stage, released a letter from the attending physician of the U.S. Capitol, who has been his doctor for 29 years. You know, this is not one of those Trump-rent-a-doctors — this is the attending physician at the U.S. Capitol — and two leading cardiologists who have had him under their care. All of them say he is fully able to handle the rigors of the presidency,” Jeff Weaver, a top adviser to Sanders, said.

“I think any of you who follow him on the campaign trail know that he can handle the rigors of that probably better than many of us standing here,” Weaver added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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