Lewis' stress test said to be OK But Celtics' doctor criticizes Mudge

August 10, 1993|By New York Times News Service

BOSTON -- Reggie Lewis showed no signs of an abnormal heart when he underwent a stress test three days before he collapsed during a playoff game April 29, the Celtics' physician said yesterday.

Dr. Arnold D. Scheller also was critical of the diagnosis by a second team of doctors that said Lewis had a "normal athlete's heart" and might be able to resume playing, calling its actions "cavalier."

Scheller said yesterday he routinely monitors the heart rate of each of the Celtics twice a year while they exercise on a treadmill. "Before we start the playoffs we put everybody through a stress test," Scheller said. "Everything was normal."

The former Dunbar star collapsed and died while shooting baskets July 27. Preliminary findings from Lewis' autopsy, released last week, stated that his heart was "abnormal, enlarged, and was extensively scarred."

After Lewis' first collapse, Scheller put the player's case before a group of consultants at the New England Baptist Hospital. He concluded that Lewis suffered from a career-ending, & 2/3 life-threatening heart condition. Scheller said yesterday the preliminary finding that Lewis had an abnormal heart "matches everything that we saw at the Baptist."

Scheller said he assembled the consultants, whom the Celtics dubbed "the Dream Team."

"I was expecting to be a referee," Scheller said. "I was expecting disagreements. But they all came up with a diagnosis on May 2."

That night Scheller told Lewis that the player had a serious heart condition, and Lewis took himself out of the Celtics' care and left the Baptist hospital to seek a second opinion at Brigham and Women's Hospital, where he put himself under the care of Dr. Gilbert H. Mudge.

Mudge's team of doctors said that Lewis had a non-fatal fainting condition, a diagnosis that appears to have been contradicted by the preliminary autopsy findings.

Scheller criticized the Mudge team yesterday. "They took an arrogant stand," he said, "pushing aside a diagnosis that was made by a very eminent team of cardiologists."

Lewis' case teaches that "it would be better if doctors didn't let their egos make their decisions," he said.

The only response from Mudge since Lewis' death came in a statement last week in which he offered his condolences to the Lewis family.

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