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Lions’ Harrington Healed After Surgery

December 17, 2002

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) _ Detroit Lions quarterback Joey Harrington was released from the hospital Tuesday after undergoing a procedure to repair an abnormal heart rhythm.

Dr. Claudio Schuger, director of clinical cardiac electrophysiology at Henry Ford Hospital, said Harrington’s heart is structurally sound.

``For all practical circumstances, Joey is healed,″ Schuger said.

On Monday, Schuger inserted an electrode catheter into the rookie quarterback’s heart, destroying parts of the electrical pathway that caused the arrhythmia. Harrington chose to undergo the procedure rather than take lifelong medication.

``Medication is not the best option,″ Schuger said.

He noted medication’s potential side effects, the possibility that it could affect an athlete’s performance and the nuisance of taking medicine for life.

Harrington was taken to the hospital after having a rapid heartbeat in Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His heart raced to more than 200 beats per minute.

Harrington, 24, will need three to six weeks to heal, but can resume normal practice and offseason training after that.

``He is in good shape and doesn’t need further therapy,″ Schuger said.

The doctor said the catheter ablation procedure has a 95 percent to 97 percent success rate. He also said Harrington’s condition _ supraventricular tachycardia _ is the most common form of arrhythmia. It affects 2 or 3 percent of those in Harrington’s age group.

Harrington will miss the last two games of the regular season. He finished the year with a 3-9 record as a starter, throwing 12 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

Schuger said Harrington was upbeat after the procedure.

``He wanted to know if the procedure was successful,″ Schuger said.

The doctor said stress is one factor that could have caused the arrhythmia. Harrington’s father and uncle have minor heart conditions, as well, but the younger Harrington’s arrhythmia isn’t related to them, Schuger said.

Second-year quarterback Mike McMahon will lead the Lions for the final two games.

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