Peverley collapse not an isolated incident, experts say

Mar 11, 2014 | Sports

By Jake Courtepatte

Rich Peverley collapsed on the Dallas Stars’ bench early in the first period of a home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets Monday evening.

The 31-year-old centre has had past cardiac issues, undergoing a procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat six months ago that caused him to miss the NHL pre-season.

Peverley also missed last Tuesday’s game against Columbus because he felt strange, having a recurrence of the same problem, the Toronto Star reported.

The scene that unfolded Monday has caused a stir within the NHL community, with many athletes expressing their concern over social media (see below). The incident, along with the stroke Pittsburgh defenceman Kris Letang suffered in January, brings to the forefront athletes with non-sports related health issues.

Michael Mosciatello, a public service student at the University of Waterloo, grew up playing minor hockey in Caledon, Ont. At an early age, he was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition causing ‘tachycardia’, or an extremely fast heartbeat. The condition made cardiovascular activity very difficult.

“Everyone just thought I was really out of shape because I was always out of breath,” says Mosciatello. “But what it really was was my heart working overtime.”

Mosciatello switched from player to goaltender at an early age, but still found it difficult to catch his breath on the ice.

“I understand that all hockey moms worry, but I feel like my mom was a mess every game,” says Mosciatello. “I honestly probably shouldn’t have played hockey, but I’m a Canadian boy, you know?”

Dr. William Fung, a cardiologist at Etobicoke General Hospital, agrees.

“Those with congenital heart defects are much more prone to random ‘outbreaks’ of symptoms,” Fung told Humber News on Tuesday. “I mean, everyone should perform some sort of cardiovascular activities, hopefully every day if they can.”

“However, if you have chronic heart problems, you should by no means be in an occupation that revolves around physical exertion.”

Peverley was diagnosed during a Dallas training camp physical before the season. Fung says that it is normal for heart defects to go undiagnosed.

“Most often heart conditions are not revealed until after a patient is hospitalized for the condition,” says Fung. “Symptoms often go unnoticed until it is too late.”

Hockey players and teams across the NHL took to Twitter last night and this morning to send their well wishes to Rich Peverley. Here are a few: