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Stefan Struve's heart condition improves, still determined to return to UFC

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In August, news broke that UFC heavyweight Stefan Struve had been diagnosed with a leaking aortic valve and an enlarged heart. Initially, there was some fear that the condition might prematurely end the 25-year-old's promising MMA career.

After a brief stint in the hospital, Struve's doctors suggested he take medication for two months and then visit with them again in early October to decide the next course of action.

Struve met with his doctors last Wednesday. His manager Lex McMahon has since provided with a promising update on Struve's condition:

"Stefan Struve recently had a follow-up visit with his doctors to determine the efficacy of the treatment protocol he had been prescribed.

During his visit, the doctors informed Stefan that the leakage back into his heart has been greatly reduced.

Additionally, his heart is not as enlarged as it was, but since it is still enlarged, they are attributing it to a condition called 'Sport Heart' or 'Athletic Heart Syndrome,' which is fairly common in athletes who train rigorously for more than one hour per day and is generally considered benign.

Stefan's doctors have cleared him to return to training so they can evaluate how he responds over the next several months.

At this time the doctors are suggesting that he continue with the medicine and do not recommend surgery.

The general prognosis for Stefan's health is very positive. Stefan is focused on returning to the Octagon as soon as he can do so safely.

Stefan wants to thank his fans, the UFC, Dana White and Lorenzo Fertita for the tremendous amount of support they have provided him."

On a recent episode of The MMA Hour, Struve, who hasn't fought since March, was in great spirits before visiting with his doctors again.

"I feel great," he said. "I don’t feel a thing about the condition. I’ve had it my entire life. That’s the crazy thing. I’ve been fighting my entire career with a heart that’s only working at 70 percent.

" ... With medication, they’re trying to lower the blood pressure and get the leakage to become less than it has been, trying to get it back to 90 percent."