The basketball legend talks candidly about the long road to his atrial fibrillation diagnosis — the symptoms he dismissed and the denial that almost killed him.
“I went to a baseball game.”
That’s how NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 76, found out he had atrial fibrillation (AFib). Two years ago he attended a Los Angeles Dodgers game, and “every time I tried to move from one place to another, I’d get extra tingly fatigue and out of breath. And I didn’t understand it.”
This wasn’t the first time. Abdul-Jabbar had been dealing with similar symptoms for a while and downplayed them because they’d been subtle and came and went. But now he admits they’d been getting worse over time and the ballgame was the worst yet.
His business manager was with him and insisted Abdul-Jabbar go to the hospital. He refused, of course – this was just a passing thing. He finally relented, however, and once at the hospital he received a quick diagnosis: AFib.
“I consider myself lucky because if I had continued dismissing it, it was going to put me down,” he says. “The denial aspect of it is a killer. It’s no big deal, it’s going to go away, and then it doesn’t go away. You’re the one that might go away.”
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