Know the Signs, Fight for Victory

The Marfan Foundation Statement on Marfan Diagnosis of NBA Prospect

In light of the Marfan diagnosis of French basketball center Jonathan Jeanne, who was expected to be a first-round selection in the 2017 NBA draft, The Marfan Foundation lauds the NBA for both its thorough screening of players entering the draft and its consistent policy to prohibit players with the condition to participate in the league.

“People with Marfan syndrome can live a long life if they are diagnosed and treated with medication and, when necessary, surgery. Competitive and contact sports should be avoided, and need to be halted once Marfan is diagnosed to protect the fragile aorta. Otherwise, it is prone to tear and possibly rupture, which would cause sudden death,” said Heidi Connolly, MD, Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, and Chair of The Marfan Foundation’s Professional Advisory Board.

In general, most people living with Marfan syndrome should exercise regularly through low-intensity, low-impact activities adapted to meet their specific needs. They should avoid contact sports because of the risk of damaging the aorta and injuring the eyes. Strenuous activities, such as competitive sports and weightlifting, also should be avoided because of the stress placed on the aorta.

Flo Hyman, captain of the 1984 U.S. Olympic volleyball team, died of an aortic dissection caused by Marfan syndrome during a tournament in Japan in 1986. She did not know that she had Marfan syndrome; the diagnosis was made at autopsy.

Approximately 200,000 people in the U.S. have Marfan syndrome or a related disorder. Medical experts estimate that half are not diagnosed. Without a diagnosis and treatment, they are at risk of a sudden early death.

For more information on the physical activity guidelines for people with Marfan syndrome, set forth by the Foundation’s Professional Advisory Board, comprised of the world’s leading medical experts on the condition, please click here.

In addition, please refer to the recording of our December 4, 2016, conference call with questions and answers about the physical activity guidelines for Marfan syndrome and related disorders. The featured doctors are:

  • Dr. Alan Braverman, Alumni Endowed Professor in Cardiovascular Diseases Professor of Medicine Washington University School of Medicine Director and Marfan Syndrome Clinic Director.
  • Dr. Ronald Lacro, Director, Cardiovascular Genetics Clinic, Associate in Cardiology, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School.

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The Marfan Foundation is a nonprofit organization that saves lives and improves the quality of life of individuals with genetic aortic and vascular conditions including Marfan, Loeys-Dietz, and Vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndromes. Our vision is a world in which everyone with genetic aortic and vascular conditions can live their best life.

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