Walker feeling better, but heart muscle inflamed

Updated: October 26, 2004, 8:50 PM ET
Associated Press

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern coach Randy Walker has an inflammation of the heart muscle and was hospitalized for a second day Tuesday. He could be released as early as Wednesday.

"I'm doing much better than I was 24 hours ago," Walker said Tuesday. "I was in a lot of pain initially, but for the most part, that has completely subsided. Yesterday afternoon was definitely a little shaky."

Walker checked himself into Evanston Northwestern Hospital on Monday after experiencing chest pains before his weekly news conference. Tests showed the 50-year-old's heart is fine, but they also revealed the inflammation, known as myocarditis.

Doctors are still trying to determine what caused the disease, school spokesman Mike Wolf said. Myocarditis is not a common ailment, and it's usually caused by a virus. According to the American Heart Association, treatment can include anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics.

Northwestern (3-4, 2-2 Big Ten) hosts Purdue (No. 19 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP) on Saturday, and Walker said he doesn't know yet if he'll be on the sidelines. He knows he will have to limit his activity somewhat, but doctors haven't said how much.

Walker said the team's game plan for Purdue was already in place when he was hospitalized. Jerry Brown, Northwestern's assistant head coach, has taken over most of the administrative duties in Walker's absence, while coordinators Mike Dunbar (offense) and Greg Colby (defense) are handling things on-field.

"Needless to say, I'm anxious to get back to coaching football," Walker said. "I understand the importance of preparing a football team for a game each week, but I also value my health and well-being. I have a strong feeling that my wife, Tammy, will make sure I'm following the doctors' orders."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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