Bernie Sanders is hiding key data on his heart health, cardiologist says

Democrat presidential frontrunner Bernie Sanders suffered a heart attack on the campaign trail in October that left him with two arterial stents, according to the BBC. Since then, the Vermont senator has tried to downplay any suggestions that he may be too ill to run the country by releasing what he called a “full report” on his health post-heart attack — but now, one doctor says Sanders is keeping a crucial piece of his health record secret from the public.

According to the Washington Examiner, Dr. Richard Kovacs, president of the American College of Cardiology (ACC), told NBC News this week that one “‘standard’ indicator of heart health” is missing from Sanders’ records. 

The Examiner reported:

The indicator, called the left ventricular ejection fraction, measures how much blood volume the heart pushes out with one heartbeat and correlates with the risk for future cardiac-related incidents.

Key measurement

According to Kovacs, the “left ventricular ejection fraction” is a standard piece of information given to patients after a heart attack. But as of yet, he said, the Sanders campaign hasn’t offered the number up.

“Normally the heart will push out 60%,” Kovacs, who reviewed letters from Sanders’ doctors about the candidate’s overall health, explained in an exclusive interview with NBC. “If you go down to 40 or 50%, we regard that as mild impairment of the left ventricle. Thirty to 40% would be moderate. If you get to 30%, that would be severe.”

Kovacs said the letters from Sanders’ doctors “imply with the heart attack that he had diminished heart muscle strength,” meaning a lowered fraction. Still, the letters seemed to acknowledge that Sanders’ heart health has improved since the October incident, Kovacs said, according to NBC.

Full transparency

But that apparent improvement hasn’t satisfied all voters. “Full transparency would be to release his ejection fraction,” Dr. Hadley Wilson, a board trustee for the ACC and cardiologist at North Carolina’s Sanger Heart and Vascular Institute, told NBC, adding that he doesn’t “really know” why Sanders would hide it.

“It is an important baseline,” he said. “But it does have to be taken into the whole clinical context.”

Wilson also noted that “a subsequent stress test in January and the other information about [Sanders’] clinical response were all very positive and encouraging.” But according to Kovacs, releasing this last measurement could finally put to rest lingering questions about Sanders’ health.

“It’s a patient’s personal private information, but there’s the importance of the number,” he told NBC.

Looking forward

Whether Sanders heeds the call to release that vital heart health metric remains to be seen — but based on his remarks at a CNN town hall on Tuesday, it looks like the 78-year-old senator isn’t in a rush to disclose any further information.

“I think we have released a detailed medical report,” Sanders said, according to the Washington Examiner, “and I’m comfortable on what we have done.”

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