After collapse in August, Percy Harvin's heart stopped beating

Andrea Kremer of NBC Sports has reported new details on the health of Vikings receiver Percy Harvin, with some scary information about the aftermath of his collapse at practice in August, but also some reasons for optimism about Harvin’s long-term prognosis.

Harvin told Kremer that when he was in the hospital after collapsing his heart stopped beating for ten seconds. Obviously, that’s frightening.

But Harvin’s hospital stay helped doctors determine that he has sleep apnea and get him the appropriate treatment. Harvin has been given a device that pumps air into his nose while he sleeps, and that seems to be working for him.

The best news is that Harvin’s doctors believe the sleep apnea was the primary cause of the migraines that have plagued him for much of his life. The breathing device is working well enough for him that he’s no longer on medication, and he may finally be able to put his migraines behind him.

40 responses to “After collapse in August, Percy Harvin's heart stopped beating

  1. My father had this. It didn’t take long to discover it and he didn’t have a medical staff at his disposal. How could it have taken this long to realize this?

  2. Funny, Chris Kemoeatu was injured in practice, and I haven’t seen anything here on this site.

  3. Sleep apnea is no joke. It either kills people literally (Reggie White) or produces all kinds of side effects on the rest of the body’s organs.
    I’m glad he finally got diagnosed correctly.
    Not a Vikings fan.

  4. This story makes no sense. Sleep apnea is when you stop breathing while you sleep. The CPAP machine that the article peripherally references provides constant airway pressure to keep your airway open while you sleep. That has absolutely nothing to do with your heart stopping…

  5. Great news. I hope Harvin can lead a normal life from now on. Well, normal as an NFL wide receiver’s can be.

  6. @Weezer
    Just what do you think makes the heart pump? The answer is oxygen you jackass. Why do you think people with OSA (obstructional sleep apnea) die? Everyone dies from shock (shock is the lack of oxygen to tissues/organs)…everyone

  7. I have sleep apnea as well. I always suffered from headaches, including migraines as well. Since getting the CPAP machine no more headaches, better sleep, less tired and plenty of other health benefits. Most people have no idea how many problems can come from getting a poor nights sleep all the time. Most people don’t even know they suffer from it until a spouse realizes it.

  8. @ Medic
    What do you think will happen with a 25 year old ELITE athlete stops breathing at night? He wakes the hell up. He’s not your typical old obese guy who gets sleep apnea. To become so severely hypoxic that your heart stops beating in an professional athlete from only sleep apnea just doesn’t make sense.

  9. As someone with sleep apnea, I can say the CPAP has improved the quality of my life. I hope it does the same for Percy.

  10. @stiller43 …
    Thanks for the info about Chris. It should be obvious–at least to anyone whose brain isn’t so zeroed in on his own crotch that he names himself after it–that we all care about the injury status of the players on our own teams. And since this is PRO FOOTBALL TALK, we’d like to know when a talented starter gets hurt three days before the season opens.
    Glad they’ve finally diagnosed Percy’s problem.

  11. wait a minute, didn’t he fall out at practice? Was he sleeping during practice, then fell out because of sleep apnea and then his heart stopped. None of this makes sense.

  12. @WeezerNY
    Sleep apnea has a LOT more to do with the anatomical structure a person’s jaw/airway, and their ability to maintain muscle control of that region while they sleep then being “old [and] obese”. In fact I’ll say that when you are “old [and] obese” you are better off. OSAS is more likely to be discovered and generally easy to treat. More likely to be found because people assume, like you, that when you are old and fat you likely suffer from OSAS. Easier to treat because the CPAP machine primarily is only fighting the gravity created by the extra soft tissue that has collected around the tracheal region. When you are a “[young] professional athlete” MD’s have a tendency to assume it’s not something like OSAS and put you through a battery of tests only to come up empty handed, thus leaving the problem untreated for god knows how long.
    What likely happened when he was admitted after his collapse: at some point he went to sleep, during sleep he displayed an irregular breathing pattern or started desaturation regularly (or both). Nurse or aid noticed this reported it to a MD; light went off in the MD’s head and said “let’s get this guy a sleep study”. Happy ending.
    I’ve personally conducted countless sleep studies and to be perfectly honest with you these cases where a patient is in peak physical shape can be tricky because it could very well be a neurology/cardiac/lung issue causing the Apnea. There are several flavors of sleep apnea some easy to treat and some quite tricky. We could be talking about disordered breathing patterns, the central nervous system abnormalities, gas exchange problems, kidney function, heart function…not just your airway closing off because you are old and fat.
    Each body reacts differently to these types of situations and it’s just as likely that he wasn’t severely hypoxic…I’ve seen patient’s desaturations fall below 10% with no cardiac issues (yet!), and have also seen 15 a year old with a pace maker in to hold normal sinus rhythm because her mild untreated OSA threw her sinus rhythm completely out of whack.
    Oh and by the way EVERYONE wakes up when they stop breathing at night not just elite athletes …well they either wake up or they die.

  13. Sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing, not have your heart stop beating. I doubt he was having sleep apnea when he was in practice…

  14. Weezer, what you don’t know could fill an ocean. If you have sleep apnea, athlete or not you don’t wake up. And if you do, it’s often a half-awake sensation and you are paralyzed for several seconds…you finally get a gasp of air and pass right back out. Most people think it’s just a re-occurring bad dream or something…not a major health problem. And yes, you can be in elite shape and still get it. Without knowing it, I had it my whole adult life…and I was doing special ops in the Marine Corps…I think I was in pretty decent shape. I never got it addressed until this year, because it was killing my health finally. Not surprising at all Percy wouldn’t realize he had it. It’s a myth you have to be old and fat.

  15. WeezerNY says:
    September 9, 2010 10:07 PM
    This story makes no sense. Sleep apnea is when you stop breathing while you sleep. The CPAP machine that the article peripherally references provides constant airway pressure to keep your airway open while you sleep. That has absolutely nothing to do with your heart stopping…
    ———————————————–
    it doesn’t say that sleep apnea had anything to do with his heart stopping. did you even read the article?
    check it again. it says while he was in the hospital after collapsing they discovered he has sleep apnea. not that hard to understand.
    you don’t need to be contradictory just to prove how smart you are. especially when you didn’t understand the article.

  16. Weezer – follow the link and read the original article. You’ll read that it happened eight times while he was in the hospital and asleep. Yes, obesity can be a cause, but so can the basic structure and configuration of your tongue and palate.
    “In a study published in the January 23, 2003, New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Levy found that sleep apnea might be present in physically fit young men in whom the condition had previously gone undetected. His study of eight randomly selected NFL teams and more than 300 players, including the smaller receivers and defensive backs, found evidence of sleep apnea in 14% of the players—nearly five times higher than noted in previous studies of similarly aged adults. The prevalence of the condition in linemen, however, was a whopping 34%.
    Dr George, the principal investigator of the study, said that the players studied had between 10 and 30 pauses in breathing, 15 to 20 seconds in duration, per hour. “These are highly trained, fit young men,” he says. “If they have it, imagine otherwise healthy guys who are not athletes.”

  17. The Vikes have a freaking Zombie at WR!?
    Seriously, that dude may have to consider retirement at some point. Migraines like that could be a continuing neurological condition that could flare up and he could literally die on the field. Betting Percy’s condition is asymptomatic, when experiencing no symptoms at all. he could have a sudden rupture of a cerebral aneurysm.
    If his heart stopped for 10 seconds, thats even worse, meaning the neurological condition impaired his cardiovascular memory. Percy may need an early retirement.

  18. Its true that sleep apnea can happen to even young and healthy guys. I went to school with a kid who was a soccer player that had it. I think it has something to do with your tongue or pallet being oversized. Either way, I hope this does take away Harvin’s migranes, He seems like a good guy.

  19. Really? Now this Saints Defense is just getting out of hand. Oh and the refs, yeah the refs.

  20. No one ever accused Percy of having a brain, so it could be a mere exaggeration on his part.
    I just cannot believe with the great hospital they have in Gainesville (Shands) and the treatment the players get, that this wasn’t discovered in college.

  21. jj jones says:
    September 9, 2010 9:55 PM
    Damn. Nothing funny about that.
    well there is nothing fuuny about people losing there homes and there lives,, ok cue bad talk about new orleans ,,, hatersssssssss never win

  22. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea this year and I can say that combined with my heart condition, it’s a miracle I did not pass away in my sleep. The quality of life difference I have now with my CPAP machine cannot be overstated.
    If you know someone who snores very loudly, or if you’ve seen them stop breathing in their sleep, PLEASE suggest to them that they get tested. This is one of the more silent killers in this country and the world, and it’s nearly 100% preventable with treatment.
    How people are finding humor with this is beyond me. I guess it would have been hilarious if they said he had cancer right?

  23. Or it’s after the beginning of the season and Harvin started smoking weed again to help with the migraines…
    just sayin’

  24. Joe C says:
    September 10, 2010 10:03 AM
    I was diagnosed with sleep apnea this year and I can say that combined with my heart condition, it’s a miracle I did not pass away in my sleep. The quality of life difference I have now with my CPAP machine cannot be overstated.
    If you know someone who snores very loudly, or if you’ve seen them stop breathing in their sleep, PLEASE suggest to them that they get tested. This is one of the more silent killers in this country and the world, and it’s nearly 100% preventable with treatment.
    How people are finding humor with this is beyond me. I guess it would have been hilarious if they said he had cancer right?
    ———————————————————————————
    Great post. I was diagnosed 10 months ago with sleep apnea and have slept with a CPAP ever since. I can truly say the difference in my health is night and day. I am 41 years old and a marathon runner, so all of you morons who think you have to be old and fat to have sleep apnea, need to actually pick up and read a book. After only 2 days of using my CPAP, I literally felt like someone had given me a dose of adrenaline in the morning. As Joe C said, if you snore loudly and always feel tired even after 10 hours of sleep. Go see a doctor. You’ll thank me.

  25. really grinds my gears when people post uneducated comments on such serious matters.
    Any response Weeezer?
    Thanks to everyone with all of the accurate info.

  26. Some assholes above have absolutely no class. Can’t you ban these guys who’s sole reason is trolling. It doesn’t really help PFT’s cause.

  27. Usually having headaches in the morning (or right when you wake up) is the big red flag for apnea. Its not a headache all day long kind of thing. Once you are awake, and standing (able to breath properly) you are getting the O2 you need and your headache clears.

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