Heart of a Lifter Conflagrated

By Marc Summy-

Penn Manor’s strength coach, Jon Zajac, was performing front squats when he unexpectedly passed out the morning of May 14.

The coach was working out under the eye of former Penn Manor strength coach, Russ McDonnell, at his studio.

The normally physically fit trainer, who helps student athletes get stronger, suddenly found himself on the other end of the strength spectrum.

Zajac said, “I was feeling light-headed throughout the workout.”

“I took a step back, a deep breath then the next thing that I remember is Russ standing over me,” he added.

Zajac, who passed out for about 2-3 seconds, hit his knee with the 255 pound bar. He also hit his head but that was the least of his concerns.

After work, where he had his knee wrapped and iced, Zajac went into the hospital to get it checked out.

The x-ray came back OK but when the EKG (electrocardiogram) was performed because of his blackout, it was not the same result.

Lifter, Jon Zajac performing a snatch. Photo Credit: (123people.com)

The EKG results came back abnormal and Zajac was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome.

WPW, according to medicinenet, is a condition characterized by abnormal electrical pathways in the heart that cause a disruption of the heart’s normal rhythm.

In other words, Zajac had an extra node in his heart that gave off small electrical impulses.

The syndrome affects 1-3 out of 1,000 people worldwide.

“I was shocked and confused about it. I never thought I had a heart problem I’ve always thought I was healthy,” said Zajac.

The doctors informed Zajac that he would need to have a heart ablation.

“They inserted a catheter up through my groin, through my vein and into my heart to burn the extra node,” noted Zajac.

It took six times before the node was incinerated which may not be the end of it.

There is a chance the node could grow back but only time will tell.

“I went in to get my knee checked out and ended up getting heart surgery,” said Zajac with a smirk.