By Sara Hossaini
The Alameda County Coroner’s Office says 21-year-old UC Berkeley football player and pre-med student Ted Agu, who passed away in February after collapsing during a team training run, had an inherited heart condition.
His official cause of death is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a rare, abnormal thickening of the heart muscle, which can make it harder for blood to leave the heart. The condition leads to cardiac arrest in less than 3 percent of people with the condition.
Dr. Kishor Avasarala, who specializes in sudden cardiac death risk at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, says Agu’s condition is a well-known cause of death for young athletes.
“In roughly 50 percent of cases, they could have no symptoms at all, and the very first symptom could be a cardiac arrest,” Dr. Avasarala said.
Even though symptoms are rare, Avasarala says red flags can include unexplained fainting episodes — especially incidents related to exercise — and a family history of heart problems.
While the university won’t comment on the coroner’s findings until a final report is released, a Cal Athletics spokesman says Agu “will forever be a beloved member of our Golden Bear family.”