Originally created 02/11/99

Saints coach to get more heart tests



NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans Saints coach Mike Ditka wants to be sure the fluttering of his heart was not an indication of anything more serious than an irregular heartbeat.

Ditka planned to have further tests to follow up on the emergency treatment he received last week.

"I want to get an angiogram, and then make sure I don't have any blockage," Ditka said. "If I have blockage, then I have to get done what has to be done whether they have to bypass it or whatever."

Ditka, 59, had a heart attack in 1988. A mild electric shock was administered to his heart on Feb. 2.

"It went out of rhythm, and I had to get it shocked back into rhythm," Ditka told Chicago reporters before returning to New Orleans on Wednesday. "But I feel pretty good. I've been working out every day."

Ditka has also been working everyday, Saints general manager Bill Kuharich said.

"That happened last week and he's been in here every day same as always," Kuharich said on Wednesday. "It hasn't had any affect on him that I can see."

Ditka said the experience of his old friend, Dan Reeves, head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, made him cautious despite his lack of problems. Reeves had quadruple bypass surgery Dec. 14, one day after experiencing unusual sensations in his neck and chest during a game against Ditka and the Saints in the Superdome.

Ditka experienced a fluttering sensation in his chest about two weeks ago during the week preceding Super Bowl, Ditka's wife, Diana, said.

Ditka was examined by a New Orleans cardiologist recommended by Saints team physician Dr. Charles Brown, and the irregular heartbeat was detected.