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Updated: September 13th, 2010 3:27pm
Percy Harvin confirms he has sleep apnea, says he's 'feeling great'

Percy Harvin confirms he has sleep apnea, says he's 'feeling great'

by Tom Pelissero
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy Harvin on Monday confirmed an NBC report that he has been diagnosed with sleep apnea, a disorder marked by abnormal pauses of breathing during sleep.

Harvin said doctors diagnosed him after his Aug. 19 collapse during practice -- an incident, according to Harvin, that was the result of a reaction to medication and not his ongoing migraine issues.

Since, doctors have taken Harvin off the medication and given him a device that helps him breathe at night, and he said he's migraine-free.

Here's a transcript of Harvin's discussion on the topic with reporters in the locker room:

Did you know before that sleeping was an issue?

"I never could sleep very well, and then in the hospital, when I would sleep, the monitors stopped a couple times. So, then they pretty much knew that it was probably the sleep apnea so that's what they wanted to test."

How scary was that, to find out that your heart was stopping at times or you basically weren't breathing?

"It was scary, but at the same time, I was halfway asleep sometimes, so they'd just barge in the room and be like, 'Harvin, you OK?' And I'd be like, 'Um, I think so.' And they were like, 'Your heart just wasn't beating.' So I was like, 'Um, what do you want me to do?' So that was the tests that we found out what it was, and I've been sleeping a lot better, so hopefully, that's it."

Are you off the (migraine) meds, too?

"Yeah, no medicine."

How nice is that?

"Great. The best thing. Like I said, hopefully, this sleep thing will be the No. 1 key and like I said, I'm feeling great."

How confident are you that this is the secret code?

"Just listening to the doctors break it down, the sleep apnea thing, I've noticed myself jumping out of my seat since I was younger. So, like I said, they real confident in that's what it is, so we'll just stick to the plan and follow what they say."

How much better do you feel now?

"It's a 100 percent difference. I'm not waking up groggy. I'm waking up feeling refreshed and ready to go, so like I said, hopefully that's it."

Is it just one machine you take on the road?

"Just one machine. It hooks up to an oxygen mask and just keeps oxygen flowing while I sleep.

Have you had any incidents since you collapsed?


You've dealt with migraines since you were 10. What tipped off the doctors to test for this now, after all this time?

"Well, once I was in the hospital, when they had me hooked up to the monitors, it stopped twice while I was in the hospital, so there was a lot of doctors that got together and said they thought this was it."

So, when you went to the Mayo Clinic last year, did sleep apnea come up?

"I told 'em I couldn't sleep, but they just figured, with everything going on, that's normal. I don't think they knew how bad. Of course, I didn't tell 'em I jump up. That's regular sometimes. So, it didn't come up."

Is your heart stopping a symptom of sleep apnea?

"Um, I think so. It's just lack of oxygen going to the brain, so it stops for a minute, so hopefully, with the oxygen and steady pumping, that'll keep it flowing."

Has this been tough for you emotionally?

"Yeah, but at the same time it's been a blessing. ... Had I never been in the hospital from the start, they'd have never figured out that it's a sleep apnea. I probably would still be going through the same thing now. Like I said, everything happens for a reason. A lot of doctors think that's what it was, from the lack of sleep. They seem real confident, so of course, that makes me confident."

What was it like going through all of that?

"My main thing was I was just trying to get back on the field. I listened to the doctors. I'm like, 'Hey, doctor. I'm sleeping. I'm just ready to practice.' Like I said, I tried to come back the next day and practice (after his collapse), but of course, the doctors and our people wouldn't let me practice. So, I'm just real glad that we finally figured out something that could be triggered. Like I said, we're going to keep following the plan and hope for the best."

How many meds were you on at the height of all this?

"It varied, depending on what doctor I went to. They kept changing it. This is supposed to be the new medicine that came out -- each week, they had something different. Just depending on the Mayo, they put me on one plan. The neurologist wanted to go with another plan. So, I'm just finally glad we got all that simplified and like I said, just get sleep and eat right and hopefully, get this turned around."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
In this story: Percy Harvin