Struve discusses his heart condition

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Last month during a routine examination, Stephan Struve was diagnosed with a leaking aortic valve and an enlarged heart. ‘Skyscraper’ was born with the condition, and it has affected him little to date, but at 25, he may never fight again.

Struve recently appeared on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour, and related the moment he found out.

“A couple of weeks ago, almost a month ago now, they did an ECHO of my heart as a routine test,” said Struve. “I was standing with a lady who was doing the test. She was nice and friendly. In the test, you can see your heart beating and your blood flowing. All of a sudden, she got a little quiet.

“‘Is something wrong,’ I asked. She said, ‘I can’t tell. We need to ask the cardiologist to explain what’s going on.’”

The cardiologist had grim news.

“You may have a tear in the aorta, and you’ll have to go into surgery tonight, or you’ve got a leak in your aortic valve,” said the doctor.

There were further tests.

“I had to get an MRI immediately to find out what was going on,” said Struve. “You have to understand, I was scared as hell. I was thinking, ‘Maybe I’ll have open heart surgery tonight.’ But everything was okay with the aorta. The only thing that was wrong was a leaking aortic valve and an enlarged heart.”

“My heart was working at 70 percent. With medication, they’re trying to lower the blood pressure and get the leakage to become less than it has been, trying to get it back to 90 percent.”

Struve has been told he needs his aortic valve replaced, which means a lifetime on blood thinners, a prescriptions that is not compatible with fight sports. However, he has not given up hope.

“There are a couple of options,” said Struve. “There is an option that will probably allow me to keep fighting. A fighter in Glory, Mark Miller, had the same procedure and he came back from it.”

“The first day they said, ‘We’ll have to check this out, but your career is pretty much over.’ But I don’t believe this thing that I’ve had my entire life will end my career. There are still a couple of question marks.”

“We’ll see what the medication does for my heart and the doctors will give their final view, and I’ll get the final answer on my career. The thing is, (the doctors in Holland) are not used to working with athletes. After they give their answer, we’re definitely going to the United States for a second opinion to see what is best so I can resume my career and live a healthy life.”

“The UFC told me they’re going to get the best cardiologists, the best people to work with me, and that, of course, they’re going to cover all the expenses.”

“The thing is, I may have to end my career, but they found it in time.”

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