Cavs' Frye recalls heart issue, uncertain future

Cavs' Frye recalls heart issue, uncertain future
Channing Frye (left) and LeBron James. (Source: AP Images)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The last few Cavaliers games have sent fans' hearts racing. When it comes to hearts, one player in particular comes to mind: Channing Frye.

You would sure think he sees the game from a whole new perspective after what he went through a couple years ago, when he worried he might never play again. One of the team's biggest 3-point shooters shows how he can put his heart in the game every time he's out there. But back in 2012, his heart almost took him out of the game for good, and then some.

"It could be potentially a very serious condition," says University Hospitals cardiologist, Dr. Dina Sparano. While she can't speak on Frye in particular -- he's not her patient -- she is familiar with what he was reportedly diagnosed with before the 2012-13 season, a weakening of the heart muscle linked to a viral infection. It's called dilated cardiomyopathy.

"Some of these common viruses like a common cold can sometimes overwhelm the body's system and immune system and attack the heart muscle, causing the heart muscle to become inflamed," Dr. Sparano said.

It would put Frye out for an entire season, and raised some grim possibilities about his future. On NBA.com he's quoted, "...anything that has to do with the heart is scary…the first thing I thought about was my own well-being and the second thing was whether I'd ever be able to play basketball again. That part of it was rough."

In fact, he was reportedly ordered on strict rest, no practice and wasn't even allowed to watch his team play for fear what it could do to his heart. Sparano says that's understandable.

"For any patient, an elite athlete in particular, rest isn't going to be part of what they do on a daily basis, but getting as much rest as possible is very important until the heart recovers," Sparano said.

From what we see of them these days, sure looks like he followed doctor's orders on a mission, and mission accomplished.

Dr. Sparano says most patients have full recovery, but some still have to be monitored for years to come. She says it can happen to anybody. Sometimes, there's no symptoms; other times there are, like shortness of breath, chest discomfort and leg swelling.

There's also often an irregular heartbeat, which she says, if not found early and not monitored closely can be very dangerous.

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