Friday, September 10, 2010

Vikings Receiver Harvin’s Health Woes Stem from Sleep Apnea

At 5’11’’, 184 lbs of solid muscle and the ability to complete the 40 yard dash in less than 4.4 seconds Percy Harvin, the explosive wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings, doesn’t have the obvious warning signs of obstructive sleep apnea that NFL coaches and trainers can easily identify. Most players in the league who’ve been diagnosed with the sleep disorder have massive bodies with excess weight, like Mario Williams or Antwan Odom.

Entering his second season in the NFL, Percy Harvin’s was considered a talented player who may never reach his potential because of chronic health concerns caused by undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea. Debilitating migraines have plagued him for his entire life. This year the painful condition kept him from practicing with the team in the preseason, prompting concerns of an early end to his NFL career.

When he finally stepped on the practice field he collapsed in a matter of minutes. His heart stopped beating for ten seconds. Harvin told NBC’s Andrea Kremer that his migraine medication led to the collapse. Strangely, this scary episode may have been the luckiest thing that ever happened to him.

Doctors at the hospital that day suspected he wasn’t getting enough oxygen when he slept. Four days later an overnight sleep study confirmed he had obstructive sleep apnea, which doctors believe triggered the migraines.

Harvin is now the proud user of CPAP, a machine that can save his career and his life. He even brings it on the road for away games.

After a long stretch of missed practices and preseason games Harvin saw regular action Thursday night in the NFL season opener against the New Orleans Saints. He only caught one pass for 12 yards in the 9-14 loss.

Despite a disappointing opening game, Harvin is past his migraines and back on track to become one of the league’s marquee receivers all thanks to one little machine he keeps at his bedside.

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