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JJ Watt plays just days after having his heart shocked back into rhythm

Cardinals DE J.J. Watt says he had his heart shocked into rhythm after going into atrial fibrillation this week. He still played Sunday in a win over the Panthers.
Credit: AP
Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt speaks during a news conference after an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)


Former Houston Texans defensive lineman and current Arizona Cardinal J.J. Watt played Sunday afternoon after his heart went into atrial fibrillation (A-fib) earlier this week.

"I went into A-Fib on Wednesday," Watt wrote on his personal Twitter account. "Had my heart shocked back into rhythm on Thursday and I'm playing today. That's it."

Watt also wrote in the tweet that he was informed someone leaked the A-fib information about him and that it was going to be reported on prior to the game.

The Cardinals listed Watt on the injury report with an "illness" on Thursday, but he returned to practice on a limited basis Friday.

After the game, a visibly emotional Watt discussed his health and having a baby on the way.

“I talked to cardiologists, electrophysiologists from all over the country ... I was assured multiple times from multiple people (that) it can happen next day or 20 years. So, I went back to practice on Friday,” Watt said.

Watt and his wife Kealia have spent the past few months looking at ultrasounds of their unborn son and wishing for the best. They never thought they’d be looking at pictures of Watt's own heart. He got choked up when he talked about that experience.

"For months we've been looking at ultrasounds of a baby boy and now looking at ultrasounds of my heart," Watt said. "It's been a week, but happy...happy to be here. It's been tough. It's weird to have a baby on the way."

The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year helped the Cardinals beat the Carolina Panthers 26-16 on Sunday, just three days after having his heart shocked into rhythm after going into atrial fibrillation. 

“It’s been a week. I’m happy to be here. Happy to...,” an emotional Watt said as his voice trailed off and he took a moment to gain control of his emotions.

What is A-fib?

There are three types of A-fib, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine:

  • Paroxysmal Afib: Intermittent and can stop on its own within seven days.
  • Persistent Afib: Lasts longer than seven days and can require an electric shock to restore a normal rhythm
  • Long-standing persistent Afib: Similar to persistent but lasts longer than a year

According to the Mayo Clinic, atrial fibrillation (A-fib) is an irregular and often rapid heart rhythm that can lead to blood clots in the heart.

A-fib increases the risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.

The Mayo Clinic says that during A-fib the heart's upper chambers beat chaotically and out of sync with the lower chambers of the heart.

For many people, A-fib may have no symptoms, but A-fib may cause a fast, pounding heartbeat and shortness of breath or weakness.

How is A-fib treated?

The Mayo Clinic says that although A-fib itself usually isn't life-threatening, it's a serious medical condition that requires proper treatment to prevent stroke.

Treatment for atrial fibrillation may include medications, therapy to reset the heart rhythm and catheter procedures to block faulty heart signals.

The Cleveland Clinic says the main goal of most A-fib treatments includes trying to control your heart rate, regaining a normal heart rhythm, and reducing your risk of having a stroke.

They also say A-fib can’t be cured, but its symptoms can be managed.

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