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Heart disease ends Smith's Wisconsin career

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Lisa Salberg Find out more about Lisa Salberg
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  • Heart disease ends Smith's Wisconsin career

    Heart disease ends Smith's Wisconsin career

    BYLINE: By Patrick Klemz, Badger Herald; SOURCE: U. Wisconsin

    DATELINE: MADISON, Wis.

    Wisconsin sports officials announced Aug. 26 that junior tailback Dwayne
    Smith will not return to football due to a dangerous heart condition. Team
    doctors detected a murmur during a routine checkup earlier in the month and
    immediately barred Smith from practices.

    The diagnosis came as a shock to the rusher, who displayed no symptoms of any
    conditional problem prior to the preseason physical.

    "It's very unusual to find someone like Dwayne who had no symptoms, worked
    out all summer and has been a spectacle of health and then suddenly hear a
    murmur that we have not heard before," team physician Dr. Greg Landry said.

    According to head coach Barry Alvarez, Smith will maintain his athletic
    scholarship and continue to contribute to the program as a student coach.

    The bad news arrived in the wake of tempestuous offseason for the Wisconsin
    back, as charges against Smith for an alleged sexual assault on Feb. 20 continue
    to loom.

    While preseason camps roll along, the team will rally in support of Smith in
    his moment of sacrifice.

    "He loves football, loves to compete and has worked very hard to put himself
    in this position," Alvarez said. "It's hard to give up, and then to step back
    and look at the seriousness of what he has."

    The condition, known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), creates a disarray
    of cells that thickens heart tissue and impedes blood flow. Heavy physical
    training complicates HCM, making it the leading cause of sudden death among
    athletes.

    Probably the highest profile case of HCM-related death appeared in 1993 when
    Boston Celtic star Reggie Lewis collapsed during a full-court pickup game. Lewis
    ' death came just three months after the forward passed out during a playoff
    game against the Hornets.

    Countless other episodes occurring in high schools and colleges across the
    country heightened awareness to promote early detection.

    Fortunately for Smith, doctors avoided disaster by making a diagnosis and
    sidelining the player prior to the grueling preseason camps.

    "All we can do right now is be grateful that we found the situation," Alvarez
    said.

    HCM impacted Wisconsin athletics once before when promising freshman point
    guard Latrell Fleming passed out during a conditioning drill in 2001 and later
    left basketball as the result of a positive diagnosis. With Smith, the signs of
    ailment proved more elusive.

    "Occasionally we have athletes that are symptomatic like Latrell -- [his
    collapse] was the clue that something was wrong," Landry said. "Interestingly
    enough, murmurs can come and go. Dwayne didn't have a murmur earlier."

    Following the initial detection of the murmur, trainers sent Smith to a
    number of cardiologists, including a specialist at the Minneapolis Heart
    Institute. Coaches informed the team of Smith's condition two days prior to the
    public announcement.

    Smith, a National Honors Society member, now prepares for life after
    football.

    "I told Dwayne he's got 70 years to live," Alvarez remarked. "He's a very
    good student and a bright young man. He's going to make a great contribution to
    society."

    Smith leaves Wisconsin football with a career 1,407 rushing yards and 15
    touchdowns. He stepped up in 2003, accumulating a team-high 857 yards following
    the injury to starting halfback Anthony Davis.

    The departure pushes sophomore Booker Stanley into the backup role behind
    Davis, although New Jersey recruit Chris Pressley continues to garnish attention
    and may challenge Stanley for the spot.
    Knowledge is power ... Stay informed!
    YOU can make a difference - all you have to do is try!

    Dx age 12 current age 46 and counting!
    lost: 5 family members to HCM (SCD, Stroke, CHF)
    Others diagnosed living with HCM (or gene +) include - daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, sister and many many friends!
    Therapy - ICD (implanted 97, 01, 04 and 11, medication
    Currently not obstructed
    Complications - unnecessary pacemaker and stroke (unrelated to each other)

  • #2
    Re: Heart disease ends Smith's Wisconsin career

    I have to tell you the Madison Wisconsin Pediatric cardiologists are wonderful and know a lot about HCM. My kids' cardiologist is from the Children Hospital of Wisconsin Madison and has been their cardiologist for 13 years. I recently had an episode where my son had chest pain and called down to Madison. I spoke to the cardiologist on call (not my own) and was pleasantly surprised to have an educated discussion with that physician. Not a discussion where I had to explain my children's heart condition. This football player is very fortunate to have the diagnosis before any dreadful consequences and be able to trust the doctors knew what they were talking about. Thanks for sharing this Lisa.
    Michelle - mom to Krista and Tyler both HCM
    Krista surgeries: 3/97 myectomy, 2/99 mitral valve replacement
    Tyler surgery: 1/98 myectomy

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