New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia pitches in the third inning at Rogers Centre on Aug 8, 2017.

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Yankees' Sabathia Opens Up About Scary Heart Procedure

January 10, 2019 - 3:12 pm
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By WFAN.com

Longtime Yankees’ starter CC Sabathia opened up about a scary heart procedure while speaking to Ryan Ruocco on the R2C2 podcast.

The 38-year-old left-hander feels healthy after having a stent inserted to alleviate a blocked artery. Before surgery, his artery was 90 percent blocked.

“I feel great,” Sabathia said. “Had the heart scare, obviously, early in December. We had the procedure to put the stent in. It’s crazy because I was feeling so bad. I thought I had acid reflux. I was walking around with (expletive) Pepto-Bismol bottles and Tums, just thinking it was that.

“For it to be my heart was scary but having the procedure and then getting out of the hospital, I feel like a brand-new person. For like three weeks, I wasn’t sleeping – I couldn’t eat. It was bad. So, now I feel great – so it’s good.”

Sabathia initially believed that he was experiencing a heart attack.

“I kept telling (my wife) Amber, I was having a heart attack,” Sabathia said. “But it was more in the center of my chest. The pain didn't get into my left side until a couple of days before I did the stress test. I was like, ‘(Expletive) it. My stomach is whatever, but I need to start working out, maybe that'll help it.’ So, I went to the gym, rode the bike a little bit and played catch with Dellin (Betances).

“Half way through playing catch, I’m like ‘(Expletive) man, I’m tired.’ I was out of breath. Something’s up. My cardio has always been up. I’ve always been able to do cardio, play catch, whatever, for however long. For me not to be able to ride the bike and play catch, something’s up. So, I called Dr. (Paul) Lee and got a stress test and couldn’t even get through it. That’s when they found it.”

Sabathia informed the Yankees and underwent a stress test performed by head team internist Dr. Paul Lee at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. During his drive back to New Jersey, Sabathia received a call to immediately return to the hospital.

“It wasn't scary, just because I didn't know,” Sabathia said. “He was like, 'We need to do a procedure. You need to come back, you need to bring Amber.’ I was like, ‘All right, whatever.’ I just thought it was another procedure. It wasn't scary until after talking to the doctor, and him telling me it was the widowmaker artery and a 90 percent blockage, and just seeing the way they put the dye in there and the way it wasn't pumping. It was crazy.”

Sabathia has a family history of heart troubles. He lost his cousin, Demetrius Davis, to heart disease in Dec. 2012 at age 45.

“Thank God I caught it when I did, just being able to have the doctors see me right away and get it done,” Sabathia said. “It was definitely a blessing. Obviously, my family history of heart attacks and heart issues, and me being so big in my 20s and all that, the doctor said that this was probably going to happen.”

He had been planning on flying to England to attend the English Premier League match between Liverpool F.C. and Manchester United. Doctors told Sabathia that if had he boarded the flight, he wouldn’t have made it back.

“The doctor told me that if I would have gotten on the plane to London, I wouldn't have made it back,” Sabathia said. “To wrap my head around that... I still wanted to go see Liverpool and Manchester (United), so I was a bit bummed about that. After the first three or four days, it was about how I felt more than trying to look back on it.”

This week, Sabathia underwent a follow-up stress test and is cleared to resume workouts and begin baseball activities.

Sabathia signed a one-year, $8 million contract in November. He went 9-7 with a 3.65 ERA in 153 innings pitched in 2018.