Stefan Struve's career in danger after enlarged heart diagnosis

The UFC's tallest man, heavyweight Stefan "Skyscraper" Struve, has been diagnosed with a medical condition that may put an end to his fighting career.

While he's been on the shelf after breaking his jaw against Mark Hunt back in March, Stefan Struve has received some more bad medical news, and it just might mean an end to his fighting career. Struve has been diagnosed with a leaking aortic valve and an enlarged heart. His manager offered an official statement through MMA Fighting.

"Stefan Struve has recently been diagnosed with a leaking aortic valve and an enlarged heart and was hospitalized for a week to undergo testing to determine the best course of treatment. The doctors found that Stefan has a bicuspid aortic valve, wich means that his aortic valve only has two leaflets, instead of three.
The aortic valve regulates blood flow from the heart into the aorta, the major blood vessel that brings blood to the body. In combination with the enlarged heart it causes his heart to only pump 70 percent of the blood into the aorta and then the rest of his body, and the remaining 30 percent ends up back in the heart chamber. After consulting experts in both Holland and the United States, it was decided to treat the condition with medication for the next two months and asses the effectiveness of that treatment protocol. After those 2 months, the doctors will have an answer on what the best treatment options are.

At the direction of his doctors, Stefan has now been released from the hospital and has resumed light cardiovascular exercise. Stefan fully appreciates the significance of the condition he has been diagnosed with, however, he is optimistic about the eventual outcome and fully plans on living a long, healthy, active, happy life and eventually returning to competition in the octagon for his quest to become the UFC Heavyweight Champion.

Stefan loves the UFC and plans on being involved with company as a fighter and ambassador for years to come.  Stefan wants to thank all the fans who have supported him thus far in his career as well as the UFC, Dana White, Lorenzo Fertita, Joe Silva, Dr. Jeff Davidson, the entire staff of the UFC, and his fellow fighters for affording him the opportunity to compete on the biggest stage of the sport of MMA, as well as a tremendous degree of support during this trying time. In particular Stefan wants to thank Dana White, Lorenzo Fertita, & Joe Silva for immediately getting engaged with this issue and providing Stefan access to the best possible medical care. Stefan will be sharing his experiences as he deals with this medical condition in the hopes that he can serve as a role model by helping to create awareness and inspire others to fight through adversity."

An enlarged heart is a real red flag diagnosis. Several athletes have died from the condition as the immense strain they put on their bodies offers them very little medical leeway. In 2007 NBC released data from a study that said that an undiagnosed enlarged heart was among the leading causes of death in young athletes. Partially this is because intense athletic activity may lead to a thickening of the heart muscle.

However, even with the obvious danger, the condition does not necessarily mean he'll have to end his career. As stated Struve still has the desire to compete and doctors are waiting for a more thorough diagnosis before recommending treatment. Whatever his final decision is I hope he is able to do everything needed to stay healthy. We'll be sure to keep you updated as more news becomes available.

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