UFC welterweight Dan Hardy’s fighting future remains up in the air following his diagnosis of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome.
The diagnosis came prior to his scheduled April 20 bout with Matt Brown on the UFC on Fox 7 card.
“It’s called Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, but I don’t have the syndrome because I’ve never had any symptoms. I only have the pattern, which means I have a second heart beat, but it’s never caused a problem,” said Hardy on a recent episode of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast.
Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, or WPW syndrome, is the presence of an extra, abnormal electrical pathway in the heart that leads to periods of a very fast heartbeat (tachycardia), according to MayoClinic.com.
Symptoms of the heart irregularity can include palpitations, dizziness, light-headedness, fainting, tiring easily during exercise, and anxiety. If a person with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome also has a very rapid heart rate, more-serious symptoms can develop, including: chest pain, chest tightness, difficulty breathing and sudden death.
A catheter-based procedure, known as ablation, can permanently correct the heart rhythm problems.
“People have that done when they have symptoms, when they have palpitations and dizziness. People have panic attacks and stuff. I’ve never had anything, nothing at all,” explained Hardy.
A person may have an extra electrical pathway in the heart, but experience no fast heartbeat and no symptoms. This condition, called Wolff-Parkinson-White pattern, is discovered only by chance when a person is undergoing a heart exam for other reasons, such as pre-fight medicals. Wolff-Parkinson-White pattern is harmless in many people.
“What they’re telling me at the moment, I’ve got to go back and get some more tests done for like a second opinion with a different person, but basically the way I understand it right now is if I want to continue fighting, to get cleared, I have to have the ablation,” said the 30-year-old British fighter. “But because I’ve never had any symptoms, and I’m perfectly fine, I don’t see the point in letting someone go in and start burning my (expletive).”
“If it was causing a problem and that’s the solution then I would have it done, but it’s not,” Hardy added.
Hardy is healthy. His resting heart rate is 42 beats a minute. The issue with clearing him to compete is the potential risk of a cardiac event occurring during a fight.
“The problem is the main heart rate can only go up to about 220 beats a minute, but the secondary cells that produce the second heart rate, the heart beat is limitless. That can go to whatever. So if I’m at 12 minutes into a fight and I’m full of adrenaline and completely exhausted and my heart rate can’t keep up, there’s the potential for the other one to kind of take over,” explained Hardy. “But the chances decrease after like 25 (years of age), and the chance of it happening is like 0.6 percent.
“The problem is they don’t know whereabouts in my heart it is. They’ve got to go look for it, so they didn’t say they could fix it. They said they want to study it.”
Hardy’s next step is to have more tests done with a leading cardiologist.
“I’m going to go back and get some more tests done. Lorenzo (Fertitta) has a special cardiologist that he wants me to go and see, so I’m going to get that done and kind of see what my options are,” he said. “I don’t see the point in having a surgery done if I have to have it done to carry on fighting. It just seems pointless to me.”
Facing the very real possibility of his fighting career being over, Hardy remains hopeful that he’ll someday be able to compete again.
“I want to get cleared to fight. I would like to be able to fight again.”