The summer after leading her team to a national championship, LSU women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey got checked out for what she thought was a minor health issue. As it turned out, she needed a life-saving heart procedure, and now Mulkey is advocating for everyone to stay on top of their health.
According to ESPN, Mulkey was experiencing numbness in one of the fingers on her left hand in May, and she decided to get it checked out. It was originally diagnosed as carpal tunnel, but Mulkey requested that doctors check on her neck, where she had disc replacement surgery in 2018.
During that scan, doctors discovered a 95-99% blockage in a coronary artery. In June, Mulkey underwent a process to get two stents put in to resolve that life-threatening issue.
Mulkey said she never experienced any serious symptoms, and she was surprised to get such a serious diagnosis. Now, Mulkey is encouraging people to go for regular check-ups, regardless of how they might feel.
"I never even felt bad," Mulkey said, per ESPN. "I'm still kind of in shock that we accidentally found this. So my message in sharing this is, if you're over 50, go get a stress test.
"I've had some of my former teammates tell me, 'We're going to do it.' That's why I share these things. I'm an open book if it's something that can help people. It's just a great lesson for all of us who think that it won't happen to us."
Mulkey said her doctor told her she was "asymptomatic" and would have "eventually" had a heart attack if the blockage wasn't found. Mulkey feels lucky she listened to her body and says it's important for others to do the same.
"As an athlete, your body gives you signals with injuries. And even with non-athletic things like kidney stones, you definitely feel it," Mulkey said. "The issue with my heart, it was really just luck that we found it. So I will keep telling people, 'Get yourself checked out. You have nothing to lose, and it could save your life.'"
On Tuesday, the LSU women's basketball team will get CPR training at the athletic facility. That is just another way Mulkey and the Tigers are trying to be prepared when it comes to heart health.