JJ Watt's Heart Went Into A-Fib on Wednesday, But He's Still Playing Today

J.J. Watt made a frank announcement about his health on Sunday ahead of the Arizona Cardinals' game against the the Carolina Panthers. The 33-year-old defensive lineman tweeted that he had been treated for atrial fibrillation ("A-Fib") on Wednesday by some form of shock therapy. According to Watt, this news was about to leak and be reported on anyway, so he wanted to get ahead of it and tell fans himself.

"I was just told somebody leaked some personal information about me and it's going to be reported on today," Watt explained. "I went into A-Fib on Wednesday, had my heart shocked back into rhythm on Thursday and I'm playing today. That's it." Watt's announcement came shortly after noon, with the game scheduled to start at 4 p.m. ET. Many of the top commenters were concerned and disapproving, though Watt's die-hard fans assumed he knew what was best for him. Many also debated whether Watt would be getting reliable advice from those within the NFL.

"Life is bigger than football. Glad you are OK," wrote NFL free agent Robert Griffin III. A fan responded: "Why don't you criticize his coach for letting him play like you did McDaniel you hypocrite." In other comment threads, one person wrote: "Sounds like something an NFL doctor would approve," while another person added: "Someone committed a HIPAA violation if your personal medical info was leaked. That is not ok."

Atrial Fibrillation, or A-Fib, is a type of arrhythmia – abnormal heartbeat. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, it is caused by an issue with the electrical signals involved in the heart's function, which can cause the patient's pulse to quicken, slow or move at an inconsistent pace. If left untreated, A-Fib can lead to blood clots, heart failure or stroke.

Watt famously worked hard to overcome a medical issue between this year and last, though fans did not generally know that he was experiencing heart problems. According to a report by PEOPLE, he was out for much of last season recovering from a tear in his shoulder's rotator cuff. He discussed his recovery on Maanav Gupta's Sports Talk podcast back in December.


Watt remembered being told that his recovery process would take about six months, but he responded: "Nah, I'm not going to accept that." He managed to beat that timeline and have a triumphant return to the starting lineup, but now it appears he has other issues to contend with.