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Inside Falcons rookie Kaleb McGary’s heart procedure; Chris Lindstrom, John Cominsky turn heads in debuts


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https://theathletic.com/1112643/2019/08/02/inside-falcons-rookie-kaleb-mcgarys-heart-procedure-chris-lindstrom-john-cominsky-turn-heads-in-debuts/

 

CANTON, Ohio — It’s a procedure that, to the layperson, sounds worse than it is. Cardiac ablation. Any time the word cardiac is used in relation to a human being, it tends to be serious. Ablation isn’t exactly a word that gives the fuzzies, either.

During practice Tuesday, first-round draft pick Kaleb McGary felt ill and needed to leave the field. As it has happened before, McGary’s heart started racing due to atrial fibrillation, a condition in which the heart essentially short circuits and begins to beat irregularly. A day after the episode, the Falcons said McGary would undergo a third cardiac ablation procedure. After a 14-10 loss to the Denver Broncos at the Hall of Fame Game on Thursday, head coach Dan Quinn provided an update on McGary.

“The doctors were certainly happy with the procedure, and we’ll have more updates as we go along,” Quinn said. “The first part of it is they were happy. Now, we’ll go through the same markers, when he goes back to the doc, on when his return to play can be.”

While it might have seemed like a scary episode, it doesn’t appear the Falcons’ organization is too concerned about the long-term well-being of McGary, whom they traded up to draft.

Quinn was asked if it was a scenario he knew could possibly occur, simply based on McGary’s medical history. Quinn said the Falcons researched McGary’s background, which included medical clearance at the NFL scouting combine. Prior to drafting McGary, there wasn’t any worry from the team.

“That’s the stuff that you trust,” Quinn said. “He went through numbers of tests, not just at the combine. When you have those reports, you tend to trust the way they’re going. It’s unfortunate, but the good news is he’s going to come back. That’s the thing that’s most important. When that is, it’ll be as soon as he can, I know that.”

Dr. Shephal Doshi, who is the director of cardiac electrophysiology and pacing at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., said it typically takes eight weeks to resume contact sports after undergoing a cardiac ablation. A cardiac ablation, which Doshi emphasized is not a surgery, is minimally invasive and doesn’t require any cutting of the skin. A catheter is inserted into a vein in the groin, and a wire is then run up to the heart. From there, the heart tissue creating faulty electrical signals is burned so the heart does not short circuit.

Doshi said that while atrial fibrillation might seem serious, it is by no means life-threatening. The number of cardiac ablations a patient undergoes isn’t a concern, either. Sometimes, a doctor might think he or she fixed the faulty heart tissue, only for an irregular heartbeat to occur again. It’s simply a matter of going through another ablation to fix the problem.

“He can have it three times, four times, five times,” Doshi said. “You just have to find the right spot. With this procedure, you don’t know if it works until he has an episode.”

The procedure itself might cause some chest soreness that doesn’t last long. The reason a patient might wait up to eight weeks to resume contact sports is that blood-thinning medication must be taken afterward. With the procedure creating a burn in the heart, there is a risk for clotting without a blood thinner. And if a football player is on blood-thinning medication and takes a violent hit on the football field, the risk of internal bleeding greatly increases.

On top of that, if a clot forms in the heart, it can travel to the brain and result in a stroke.

“You can’t do the procedure without starting a blood thinner afterward,” Doshi said. “The active burning in the heart will cause blood clots in the heart. You have to be able to take the blood thinners after to get the procedure.”

Doshi said there is a chance to avoid an eight-week timetable if it is determined there were very few problem areas to burn off. In this hypothetical scenario, it could cut the recovery period to four weeks. In fact, Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy had an ablation in 2018 and missed only two weeks.

“Let’s say they go in there, and they find only one or two little spots. They may say he doesn’t need the full eight weeks because they didn’t have to do a full rewiring,” Doshi said. “It was just one or two little spots. It may just be four weeks. There’s potential depending on what they find that he may not be out for eight weeks. But generally speaking, most patients will be on blood thinners for two to three months.”

While McGary will miss immediate time, there is no concern for his future. At the same time, the ablation doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t have another episode related to his atrial fibrillation. If it occurs again, he’ll have the same procedure done, with the same recovery, before being cleared to return to football.

McGary will be a big part of Atlanta’s plans moving forward. Before practice Tuesday, Quinn mentioned that McGary was beginning to push Ty Sambrailo at right tackle. While there was never a guarantee McGary would open the year as the Falcons’ starting right tackle, he was drafted in the first round to be a key lineman in the foreseeable future.

Lindstrom shines

Just about every Atlanta starter sat out the Hall of Fame Game. One exception was rookie right guard Chris Lindstrom, who started and played the entire first quarter. Clearly, Quinn wanted to get Lindstrom some early game experience, even if he can be penciled in as a starter this year.

Lindstrom showed why the Falcons took him 14th overall. On one play, he assisted a double team and shoved Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Walker to the ground. Lindstrom then moved swiftly back to his left and pushed linebacker Joe Jones to the turf, finishing the block by preventing him from getting up.

 

“Every play I was trying to go as hard as I can, and just compete with toughness,” Lindstrom said. “I was trying to come off the ball, and it worked out great on that play. I’m trying to get more consistent with that and the more I can get out of that, the better.”

Hometown hero

For rookie defensive lineman John Cominsky, recording his first sack in the Hall of Fame Game was extra special.

Cominsky grew up in Barberton, Ohio, which is only a 10-minute drive from Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. And at the 4:57 mark of the second quarter, Cominsky brought down Broncos quarterback Drew Lock in the backfield.

Cominsky passionately celebrated the play, which seemed to excite many of his teammates on the field.

“I was working a bull-rush move, and I was just working my guard back as hard as I could,” Cominsky said. “The rest of the D-line did a good job caging the quarterback, and he fell right to me. It was electric. My body heated up like 300 degrees, and I was super pumped to get off the field.”

Cominsky had a sizable cheering section in attendance. He estimated somewhere between 50 and 75 family members and friends were able to get tickets and passes to the game. Sitting below the press box were a bunch of them, with most wearing No. 50 Falcons jerseys bearing his name.

Cominsky said he could hear his name called throughout the stadium.

“It was extra special for me because this is my hometown,” Cominsky said. “I grew up 10 minutes from here. I heard ‘Cominsky’ yelled all over the stands. People I didn’t expect, people all over Barberton who are friends and family showed up. So it was extra special for my first NFL game to be in my backyard.”

The fourth-round draft pick played defensive end in the base package and defensive tackle in pass-rush sets. Quinn was pleased with how Cominsky performed and said the plan will be to play him a lot in the remaining four exhibition games.

“We’re developing John,” Quinn said. “How fast we can do that, there’s a lot to experience. He played a lot tonight and that’ll be the plan moving forward.”

Schaub returns

The plan was for Matt Schaub to play two series before ceding the rest of the game to second-year quarterback Kurt Benkert. Early in the fourth quarter, however, Benkert went down with a toe injury and was unable to return.

Schaub was asked to go back in, considering he was the only quarterback remaining who could play.

He wasn’t able to move the ball much behind Atlanta’s third-team offensive line. And after Denver took a late 14-10 lead, Schaub’s final drive stalled. Still, Quinn said it was good experience for the veteran, considering that kind of situation could present itself in the regular season.

“You never like to have the backup go in,” Quinn said. “But that’s the exact scenario that would take place. You’re not ready, and then all of a sudden, you have to go. It’s not like you start the game, or you know you’re going in the second series. It’s not ideal at all. But those are the things that happen.”

Schaub finished the game only 4-of-14 attempts for 10 yards and an interception.

Hit of the night

Del’Shawn Phillips proved he can hit a ballcarrier with a great deal of force.

Phillips, who finished with three tackles, made his presence felt at the 13:40 mark of the fourth quarter on a fourth-and-1 play for the Broncos. Phillips ran through an open hole untouched and crushed Denver running back Devontae Jackson for a 4-yard loss.

By blowing up the play, Phillips was able to give the ball back to the Falcons’ offense. Those are the types of plays that certainly will draw the coaches’ attention in the film room.

 

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1 hour ago, Osiruz said:

Good to know he's ok. So he'll be back sometime in October-Nov?

And he can work out all he wants until then, he can run, lift weights, pretty much anything; he just needs to avoid contact due the being on blood thinners, to avoid potential of internal bleeding from a hit.

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Cominsky holding ground on double teams was almost as impressive as his playmaking IMO. Also done without any rest and no subbing out for him. That kind of stoutness and endurance will endure himself to a coach. Almost like Quinn had that as  a plan to really see if he could handle it, and he still making plays. Wow...

Lindstrom what is not to like, he seems light on his feet and moves them like he belongs. The double defender smacks were not pan cakes, but who is last guard on team that had a GIF that sweet?  Hope this continues throughout pre season, media will love it with his first round pedigree. look out if does turn into pancakes.

 On Schaub-"Quinn said it was good experience for the veteran"  Ahem, uhhhhhh.

Internally what have they seen on field before this game? They have to have confidence and see what we arm chair guys don't have privy to(for 3 years now? washed up when signed). But his performance was just as bad as last couple of years and now Benkart has grown. This is wonderful news and  I'm sure I speak for board as nobody has had any misconception that Schaub could physically lead anything positive against a first team defense.

How bout that for Benkart  and team?  hitting on a lot of cylinders for bottom roster improvement, which should bode well for top heavy superstar roster we have

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10 hours ago, gazoo said:

And he can work out all he wants until then, he can run, lift weights, pretty much anything; he just needs to avoid contact due the being on blood thinners, to avoid potential of internal bleeding from a hit.

Exactly. And, it's based on how many areas they found worth working on that will determine how long blood thinners will be used; which is the only reason he would be held back from football activities while ON them.

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In street language it means you have a racing heart,, Sometimes when you make a quick move , your heart will jump into double time.. I've had that my whole life,, It seemed to go away when I was around 40,, hadn't happened again since then but it used to like maybe every few years.. and maybe a couple of times a week when it did it.. A lot of people think that MSG causes it,, And I have to think it may ,, I stopped eatting it for a few years and never have had it again. The first time it happened to me I was in the fifth grade ,, playing softball,,  I thought I was going to die,, But I don't fear death because I know where I'm going.. But,, if any of you have it,, I learned how to make it go back into a normal heart beat instead of what feels like double time beats...  You stand up, relax, then take in as much air that you can , then hold it for maybe 10 to 15 seconds,, then slowly let the air out while slowly bending over and putting you hands on your knees.. After you get there, just wait,, and relax,, you won't need a breath for several seconds because of the huge breath you've just taken.. Nearly every time while hands on knees relaxing having just taken a hugh breath,, The heart will just go right back into normal mode beats.. I will say I haven't had this now for a long time.. But dealt with it growing up. With 99 percent of people it's not a big deal , much less fatal.  The older I got the less I had it, ,but I do still eat pizza, which is high with MSG in many pizzas ,, Thats why you'll see some places you eat, will say we don't use MSG.. 

  If anybody can get this message to McGary, ,that would be good,, I bet he eats 3 pizzas a week at least.Seems like before we drafted him , he said he ate a lot of pizza to gain weight.. To be honest, I don't think this is cause for going under the knife... Wish I could talk to him about it. 

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1 minute ago, Draftnut57 said:

In street language it means you have a racing heart,, Sometimes when you make a quick move , your heart will jump into double time.. I've had that my whole life,, It seemed to go away when I was around 40,, hadn't happened again since then but it used to like maybe every few years.. and maybe a couple of times a week when it did it.. A lot of people think that MSG causes it,, And I have to think it may ,, I stopped eatting it for a few years and never have had it again. The first time it happened to me I was in the fifth grade ,, playing softball,,  I thought I was going to die,, But I don't fear death because I know where I'm going.. But,, if any of you have it,, I learned how to make it go back into a normal heart beat instead of what feels like double time beats...  You stand up, relax, then take in as much air that you can , then hold it for maybe 10 to 15 seconds,, then slowly let the air out while slowly bending over and putting you hands on your knees.. After you get there, just wait,, and relax,, you won't need a breath for several seconds because of the huge breath you've just taken.. Nearly every time while hands on knees relaxing having just taken a hugh breath,, The heart will just go right back into normal mode beats.. I will say I haven't had this now for a long time.. But dealt with it growing up. With 99 percent of people it's not a big deal , much less fatal.  The older I got the less I had it, ,but I do still eat pizza, which is high with MSG in many pizzas ,, Thats why you'll see some places you eat, will say we don't use MSG.. 

  If anybody can get this message to McGary, ,that would be good,, I bet he eats 3 pizzas a week at least.Seems like before we drafted him , he said he ate a lot of pizza to gain weight.. To be honest, I don't think this is cause for going under the knife... Wish I could talk to him about it. 

"In street language" what?

Do you even know what msg is?

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11 minutes ago, Draftnut57 said:

In street language it means you have a racing heart,, Sometimes when you make a quick move , your heart will jump into double time.. I've had that my whole life,, It seemed to go away when I was around 40,, hadn't happened again since then but it used to like maybe every few years.. and maybe a couple of times a week when it did it.. A lot of people think that MSG causes it,, And I have to think it may ,, I stopped eatting it for a few years and never have had it again. The first time it happened to me I was in the fifth grade ,, playing softball,,  I thought I was going to die,, But I don't fear death because I know where I'm going.. But,, if any of you have it,, I learned how to make it go back into a normal heart beat instead of what feels like double time beats...  You stand up, relax, then take in as much air that you can , then hold it for maybe 10 to 15 seconds,, then slowly let the air out while slowly bending over and putting you hands on your knees.. After you get there, just wait,, and relax,, you won't need a breath for several seconds because of the huge breath you've just taken.. Nearly every time while hands on knees relaxing having just taken a hugh breath,, The heart will just go right back into normal mode beats.. I will say I haven't had this now for a long time.. But dealt with it growing up. With 99 percent of people it's not a big deal , much less fatal.  The older I got the less I had it, ,but I do still eat pizza, which is high with MSG in many pizzas ,, Thats why you'll see some places you eat, will say we don't use MSG.. 

  If anybody can get this message to McGary, ,that would be good,, I bet he eats 3 pizzas a week at least.Seems like before we drafted him , he said he ate a lot of pizza to gain weight.. To be honest, I don't think this is cause for going under the knife... Wish I could talk to him about it. 

Pretty sure  that the same article that said he was eating pizzas to gain weight also said that he's eating much better now with an actual nutritionist to help him.

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3 minutes ago, Yo_Lover said:

Ahh a google Dr, makes sense.

Well , since I've dealt with it for 40 years,, they didn't have google back then,, But sense they didn't I had to live with it for a long time.. It's not dangerous in most cases,,  But I think it could be if a person has a bad heart.. I think mine is fairly strong.. never smoked and never use drugs. I feel great for 62, PTL!

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5 minutes ago, FalconsIn2020 said:

Hockey players are a different breed.  Toughest players in professional sports.  But I thought blood thinners were s 4 week minimum after ablations

"Dr. Shephal Doshi, who is the director of cardiac electrophysiology and pacing at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., said it typically takes eight weeks to resume contact sports after undergoing a cardiac ablation...

 

...Doshi said there is a chance to avoid an eight-week timetable if it is determined there were very few problem areas to burn off. In this hypothetical scenario, it could cut the recovery period to four weeks. In fact, Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy had an ablation in 2018 and missed only two weeks."

 

 

 

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