After a 15-year career, LaMarcus Aldridge retired from the NBA
on Thursday due to issues with an irregular heartbeat. The veteran
big man announced his decision to call it a career via Twitter.
"My last game, I played while dealing with an irregular
heartbeat. Later on that night, my rhythm got even worse which
really worried me even more," Aldridge said.
"...I've made the difficult decision to retire from the NBA. For
15 years, I've put basketball first, and now, it is time to put my
health and family first."
In 2007, Aldridge was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White
Syndrome (WPW) after experiencing dizziness and a rapid heartbeat
during a game.
Imagine laying on your side and all of sudden, you feel your
heart flutter and you know what's coming next -- dizziness,
lightheadedness, shortness of breath, fatigue, anxiety and so
Speaking from personal experience, heart palpitations are no
joke and can last for hours.
One day, I went to get my sinusitis checked out. During the
initial screening, my heart rate was really fast. I told the nurse,
"Oh, it’s nothing, it happens often when I have difficulty
breathing." The nurse was really concerned.
When the doctor came in, she told me that I needed to go to the
emergency room because my heart rate was 180 beats per minute. I
told her that I really didn't want to go to the ER; there was a
$500 copay fee. She responded: “Ok, I need you to sign this form
saying you refused my medical advice. If you die, I won’t be
Die? She said, "Yes, your heart can skip a beat and you
will die," and she asked if I wanted an ambulance called. I was
terrified. Since I wasn’t too far from the hospital, I refused the
ambulance and drove myself to the ER.
As soon as I made it to the ER, I was taken to the back room.
When they checked my heart rate, it had increased to 190. I was
alone at the ER for five hours, hooked up to tubes and an IV.
Eventually, I was given some medicine to bring it down, but it was
a nightmare. I really thought I was going to die.
Like Aldridge, I was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White
Syndrome (WPW). I also developed supraventricular tachycardia.
According to WebMD, “People with
Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome have an extra electrical pathway. It
causes abnormal heartbeats. And it could lead to a very serious
arrhythmia called supraventricular tachycardia. This is when the
ventricles (the heart’s lower chambers) beat very quickly.”
Now visualize being an athlete on the court with WPW. A teammate
throws a lob and you rise up for the alley-oop, and all of sudden
there’s a flutter -- your heart starts racing, you can’t breathe
and you feel like you might pass out.
Was it always in the back of Aldridge's mind that an episode
When I have an episode, I experience chest pain, dizziness,
fatigue and shortness of breath. If I know an episode is coming, I
can’t drink much caffeine. This is a medical condition that's
difficult to deal with.
Multiple reports indicate that Aldridge has undergone multiple
ablation procedures since he was diagnosed in 2007. An ablation
procedure "scars tissue in your heart to block abnormal electrical
signals [and] restore a normal heart rhythm," according to the Mayo Clinic. (I decided
against having any ablations done because I was too scared of the
Despite that fact, this man produced an arguably Hall-of-Fame
career, one that resulted in seven All-Star appearances, five
All-NBA nods and many more accolades. Aldridge is one of only 25
players in NBA history to record over 19,000 career points and
8,000 career rebounds, per StatMuse.
Notably, he has missed multiple games throughout his career due
to this condition, which requires numerous visits to the
cardiologist, multiple annual tests and so on. Even though he
probably had the best care in the world, it still had to be an
WPW really takes a toll on you -- mentally and physically. I am
in awe that Aldridge dealt with this for so long and continued his
career as long as he did. I respect his decision to call it quits
and wish him a speedy recovery.
This is something we're living with, and it isn't easy. We're
all just trying to get through it one day at a time.