UC Berkeley football player Ted Agu, in image released by Cal. (GoldenBearSports.com)
UC Berkeley football player Ted Agu, in image released by Cal. (GoldenBearSports.com) (GoldenBearSports.com)

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.”

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor