In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

April 28, 2015

The Mayor (and Coach) of Iowa State Back in the Game After Heart Surgery

By In the Loop
ISU basketball coach Fred Hoiberg

Photo courtesy of Iowa State University

Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State mens basketball coach, took a time out for open-heart surgery after the team's season ended. He's expected to make a full recovery and return to coaching and being an advocate for heart education. 

Around the city of Ames, Iowa, and the campus of Iowa State University, Fred Hoiberg is affectionately known as 'The Mayor.' And that's not just because he received write-in votes in the 1993 Ames mayoral race. He grew up in Ames (just blocks from the Iowa State campus), led his high school team to a state championship and was named Iowa's Mr. Basketball, played college basketball at Iowa State, and has been coaching at his alma mater since 2010, taking them to the NCAA tournament four of the last five seasons.

Watching Hoiberg's teams compete in Iowa State's Hilton Coliseum with more than 14,000 enthusiastic fans can get your heart pumping. But earlier this month, it was Hoiberg's heart that was the point of interest for many Cyclone fans, when the 42-year-old had open-heart surgery at Mayo Clinic's Rochester, Minnesota, campus. The surgery was not his first and was not unexpected. In 2005, doctors discovered an aortic root aneurysm during a physical examination while Hoiberg was playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He had surgery to repair the aneurysm at Mayo Clinic at that time, but it was predicted that he'd need a heart valve replacement sometime down the road. His ticker has been closely monitored ever since.


ISU Coach Fred Hoiberg with his surgeons - Dr. Rakesh Suri/2015 surgery (L), Dr. Hartzell Schaff/2005 surgery(R)

In a story posted on the Mayo Clinic News Network, Hoiberg says it was a relief to finally have the valve replacement taken care of. Although the surgery on Friday, April 17, was a long operation because it was his second open heart surgery, his cardiovascular surgeon, Rakesh Suri, M.D., says that being healthy and in good shape put Hoiberg on a path to a quick recovery. So much so that by Thursday, April 23, he was already saying thanks and good-bye to Mayo Clinic via his @ISUMayor32 Twitter account. And what about his future? "He will do well, and the prognosis is for a normal life," says Dr. Suri. So ISU fans can expect many more heart-pumping basketball games to come.

Hoiberg, who has been a heart education advocate since undergoing his first open-heart surgery, says he is a "perfect example of somebody that was born with heart disease that had no symptoms" and he was "very lucky to find out" about his condition and get it taken care of. He also says it's important to get the word out, so others can do the same. "Heart disease doesn't discriminate. It affects millions and millions of people. It's the No. 1 killer in the world, so if we can help people by talking about it and making sure they get checked — that's a great thing."

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Tags: aortic root aneurysm, Dr. Rakesh Suri, Fred Hoiberg, heart valve replacement, Iowa State University, Patient Stories

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