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Letang’s wife found him on ground after stroke

Feb 27, 2014, 12:25 PM EDT

Kris Letang AP

On Thursday, Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang met with media for the first time since it was learned he suffered a stroke in late January, and shared some emotional details about the incident.

Letang’s wife, Catherine, found him on the floor the morning of the stroke — Jan. 29 — at which time Letang said he was alert but unable to function.

“My family is worried,” he said, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “That was the difficult part, when you see your mom crying, and your wife crying.

“The day before, I was totally fine. Then, I woke up the next morning and it went like this.”

Letang has been out of action since the stroke and is unsure if he’ll be able to return this season. He has started light workouts and will reportedly have another series of tests in 2-3 weeks, at which time a decision will be made about his playing future for the remainder of the campaign.

“I would like to step on the ice and play,” Letang explained, per NHL.com. “But there are many things that won’t allow me to do that.”

Following the stroke, initial tests revealed Letang has a small hole in the wall of his heart. It’s a defect that all people have before birth, but the hole seals shut for most people — here’s more, from the Trib:

PFO, or patent foramen ovale, affects 20 to 25 percent of Americans, according to doctors. Some of the holes have a flap-like opening; others do not.

All babies have the hole before they are born. After birth, the hole usually closes within 72 hours, sometimes with the first breath.

There was no definitive diagnosis that PFO caused the stroke. According to the Trib’s Josh Yohe, Letang doesn’t intend to have surgery to correct the hole, noting that doctors believe there’s a good chance he will play hockey again.

For now, though, the Pittsburgh blueliner is simply focusing on the present — not the future.

“I have some good days, some bad days,” he explained. “I’m trying to improve every day. I see doctors twice a week. We’ll go from there.”

  1. theageofquarrel - Feb 27, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    Scary stuff. Just get well Tanger!!!

  2. Idaslapter - Feb 27, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    Wow, frightening stuff. I hope the recovery goes well.

  3. esracerx46 - Feb 27, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    I have a coworker who had this happen. He was servicing a machine on site and was talking to a service tech when he started talking gibberish. Turns out it was a stroke caused by the hole. He had surgery to correct it.

    What I don’t understand is why they don’t elect to have surgery. If the hole caused the stroke, what keeps it from happening again? I hope this isn’t a decision made to try and salvage his season. Doctors obviously know more than I do, it just seems odd they’re choosing not to correct the problem.

    • steelpenbucs87 - Feb 27, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      I HOPE that he’s not having surgery because Doctors believe its unnecessary. He has a long term big money extension inked so there’s no risk of losing money or anything by getting the surgery and being out for a while.

    • chicagobtech - Feb 27, 2014 at 4:31 PM

      At the end of the day, it’s heart surgery. If the risk of complications of the surgery are higher than the risk of another stroke, would you want to have the surgery?

    • purpleguy - Feb 27, 2014 at 5:49 PM

      Wait a second, if the stroke was caused by the small hole in his heart once, why the heck isn’t it likely to happen again — particularly for a professional athlete subject to regular physical exertion and stress? Based on those facts, I’d only have to stroke out once before I was rushing to the operating table to gain some certainty.

    • elrock7 - Feb 27, 2014 at 5:52 PM

      I cant understand why there are douche bags out there giving the above comments a thumbs down. Go crawl back into your holes!

      Get well soon Kris!

  4. sjsharks66 - Feb 27, 2014 at 12:54 PM

    Sad thing going on for Letang. I know a few people who have had strokes. A good amount of them have recovered well and are healthy. I hope that is the case with Letang! Get well soon!

  5. qauzaq - Feb 27, 2014 at 12:56 PM

    So scary. Really hope this guy fully recovers. It’s a terrible situation.

  6. charlieconway96 - Feb 27, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    Damn. Not a Pens fan in the least but always hate to hear this sort of stuff.

  7. Stiller43 - Feb 27, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    Well, in his case, surgery isnt necessary. Not sure if its like that for everyone..,

  8. nj666 - Feb 27, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    Hope he recovers and gets back to 100%. You hate to see a guy that young and talented to go down from something like that.

  9. c9castine - Feb 27, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    didn’t realize that happened. pretty wild.

    i wish people would stop trying to qualify themselves by saying ” i don’t like the pens or letang, but i hate seeing stuff like this happen to guys”

    just say “i hope he’s ok and is able to play hockey again without repercussion”

  10. penguins87and71 - Feb 27, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    Wow scary stuff, my thoughts and prayers are with him and his friends and family. If I were the Penguins I wouldn’t even consider bringing back Letang this year. I’d rather see Letang never play again, and live a long life, then play and die young. Life is bigger than hockey.

    • c9castine - Feb 27, 2014 at 5:30 PM

      your not a doctor and neither am i….

      but he’s 26 and has been playing hockey for my guess, 20 years. first time it has happened and it happened it seems while he was sleeping or when he woke up…

      it has nothing to do with hockey. i know a kid who had a stroke in 2nd grade. true story. I know he is still alive today and i know he was a great kickball player at recess.

      did it ever occur to you that hockey is life? not winning, not money, not scoring, none of that matters.

      but to some people, living life is playing hockey.

  11. joewilliesshnoz - Feb 27, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    The best skating defenseman since Bobby Orr. Get well soon, Tanger.

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