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MVP's Most Valuable Program
As evident by the gold around his waist, to this point United States Champion MVP's extraordinary athletic talents have earned him much success in WWE. But following the discovery of an abnormal accessory pathway in his heart (Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome) during a standard physical examination, the preservation of Porter's career -- and more importantly, his life -- can be attributed to something other than his own inherent gifts: The WWE Wellness Program.
"The provisions of the WWE Wellness Program potentially saved MVP's life," said cardiologist Dr. Fred Feuerbach, who oversaw the testing for WWE. "The accessory pathway is an extra electrical pathway in the heart, kind of like a short circuit. It can kick on and cause an abnormal heart rhythm, a very fast heart rhythm. It can result in a heart spontaneously beating over 200 beats per minute, and the pathway increases the risk for sudden cardiac arrest, which can equal death."
According to Dr. Feuerbach, this condition isn't always fatal; however, subsequent limitations after its diagnosis would have curtailed MVP's budding career.
"You can't predict who of any given group will be fatally affected. In general, however, those who have the accessory pathway shouldn't be exposed to excessive physical activity, because they have a higher risk of fatal arrhythmia."
Weeks ago, at The Great American Bash, Porter -- like all WWE Superstars -- was required to undergo mandatory cardio testing, as part of the company's policy. Routine cardiac testing for WWE takes place every six months and consists of a Superstar running on a treadmill to the point where their heart rate rises above 150 beats per minute. Immediately following that, an echocardiogram -- a test which uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart -- is taken to look at the opening and closing of the heart valves. This process led to the detection of a Delta Wave, an abnormal electrical pattern on an EKG which suggests that a dangerous short circuit may be present in the heart. Upon the discovery, the U.S. Champion was immediately referred for further assessment.
MVP's condition is most likely attributable to genetics; as an athlete, however, Porter's body has compensated for the dysfunction, which is presumably why it has never bothered him before. In order to eliminate this hazardous condition, the U.S. Champion went to Dr. Feuerbach and underwent a precarious radio frequency treatment this past Monday -- a procedure that is equally dangerous in that one in 1,000 individuals die during it. Next week, tests will be performed again to see if the procedure was a success.
"After we first picked up this abnormality, MVP was referred to undergo an EP (Electrophysiology) Study," Dr. Feuerbach revealed. "In an EP Study, wires are put inside the heart that can map out the entire electrical system of the heart. When this was done to MVP, the accessory pathway was not only found, but doctors were able to perform what's called an ablation to completely eliminate the pathway. It's essentially curative, and a follow-up EKG can show that the accessory pathway is gone.
"From a cardiovascular standpoint, WWE's screening plan is very aggressive, and is equal to or surpassing what's required elsewhere," Dr. Feuerbach added. "What this whole case proves is that the cardiovascular aspect of the WWE Wellness Program can work. It picked up a potentially fatal abnormality with MVP's heart, and regardless of the fact that he may not have had future problems, we won't have to find out the hard way."
Watching Friday Night SmackDown every week, it's not difficult to determine what's important to MVP: Being MVP...and being better than you. Despite the tumultuous week, the outspoken U.S. Champion appeared on SmackDown and promised a new challenge next week for nemesis Matt Hardy, proving that he intends to return stronger than ever.