“I must confess, I was dumb,” Sanders told reporters outside his home in Burlington, Vermont. “During this campaign, I’ve been doing, in some cases three or four rallies a day, running all over the state — Iowa, New Hampshire, wherever. And yet I, in the last month of two, just was more fatigued than I usually have been.”
Sanders was in Nevada last week when he experienced what his campaign described the next morning as “chest discomfort.” Sanders had two stents inserted after doctors found an arterial blockage and remained hospitalized over the next few days. On Friday, the campaign confirmed that he had suffered a heart attack. Sanders returned to Vermont this weekend and is not expected back on the campaign trail before next week’s Democratic primary debate in Ohio.
In his most detailed in-person comments since falling ill, Sanders expressed regret over not having sought medical attention sooner.
“I should have listened to those symptoms,” he said. “So if there’s any message that I hope we can get out there, is that I want people to pay attention to their symptoms. And you know, when you are hurting, when you’re fatigued, when you have a pain in your chest, listen to it.”
Sanders also again promised to release his full medical records. He told reporters on Tuesday he was headed to an appointment with a local cardiologist for a follow-up. It will be their first meeting.
“The truth is that my main doctor is in Washington, D.C., so I’ve not had a doctor here in Vermont, let alone a cardiologist,” Sanders said. “So we’re going to meet him. I understand he’s a very good cardiologist. Going to see him on a regular basis to get some checkups, and obviously, I’ll be on-and-off in Vermont and so we’re going to meet him today.”
Sanders and his campaign held an all-staff conference call on Monday afternoon. He updated his team on his recovery and discussed the next steps of the campaign, according to an aide.
The 78-year-old Vermont independent was upbeat during the discussion, the aide told CNN, and stressed that the campaign was moving forward.
“If there’s anything that this event kind of tell us, it is the importance of the what our message is in this campaign,” Sanders said, according to the aide. “And our message is ‘us, not me.’ This has never been about me. It’s been about millions of people, including certainly our campaign staff, working together to bring about the kind of fundamental changes this nation absolutely needs.”