Olajuwon's Heartbeat Back to Normal
Nov. 20, 1996
HOUSTON (AP) _ Although Hakeem Olajuwon's heartbeat was back to normal Wednesday, the Houston Rockets' center remained hospitalized as doctors performed further tests.
Olajuwon developed an irregular heartbeat after drinking a glass of cold water at halftime Tuesday night.
He was given medication to try to stabilize his heart, but when that was not successful, doctors used a defibrillator Wednesday to shock his heart back to normal, said Dr. Bruce Moseley, a team physician.
Moseley said Olajuwon, 33, could be released from The Methodist Hospital within the next day or so, depending on test results.
Team officials expected Olajuwon to be sidelined for five to seven days.
The abnormal rhythm, or arrhythmia, appears similar to the irregular heartbeat he had in 1991, Moseley said.
``It resolved and he did well, and we hope it's going to do the same thing this time,'' Moseley said.
Doctors were optimistic further tests would show no problems. They do not believe the reoccurrence stems from any degeneration or abnormality of the heart.
``Barring unusual findings in further tests, we hope and expect that this will resolve and that he will go on and do very well,'' Moseley said.
Moseley described the superstar center in ``reasonably good'' spirits Wednesday.
``He was feeling a whole lot better now that his rhythm was back to normal,'' said Moseley, describing the irregularity as a ``disconcerting feeling.''
Moseley said it was not known when Olajuwon would return to the court, but that doctors would have a better idea Thursday.
``We don't want him to feel like we're rushing him back,'' Moseley said. ``We're going to take all the usual precautions, if anything, err on the side of being conservative because this isn't anything to fool around with.''
He also said that doctors could not rule out that it might not occur again. He said it's not really known why such arrhythmia occurs, and that there is no medicine to control the heartbeat.
``Generally once it goes back to normal rhythm, it's back,'' said Moseley, who at times reminded reporters that he is an orthopedic surgeon and that heart specialists were treating Olajuwon. ``Generally, you can just get back and going again. But the main thing is you do it gradually.''
At one point as Moseley discussed Olajuwon's condition after the Rockets' practice, Charles Barkley played at reporter, taking a microphone to question the doctor.
Barkley jokingly wondered if Olajuwon's problem had anything to do with ``Shaqitis,'' because the Rockets would soon face the Los Angeles Lakers and Shaquille O'Neal.
``Is there something you could give him for that?'' Barkley asked. ``Ain't there some type of pill for Shaqitis?''
Olajuwon had scored 10 points and five rebounds before halftime in the Rockets' 122-93 victory Tuesday over the Timberwolves.
His past medical conditions have included anemia at the end of the 1994-95 championship season, as well as hospitalization for a blood clot in his left leg before the 1990-91 season. The clot was dissolved by blood thinners.