LSU women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey underwent a potentially life-saving heart procedure in June that still has her “in shock.”
Two months after she coached the Lady Tigers to their first NCAA championship in program history, the 61-year-old Mulkey had two stents put into a coronary artery that had 95 to 99 percent blockage, ESPN reported.
The outspoken coach — who is known for her loud presence and even bolder fashion choices on the sidelines — said she had not experienced any symptoms and was unaware she had any heart issues.
“I’m still kind of in shock that we accidentally found this. So my message in sharing this is, if you’re over 50, go get a stress test,” said Mulkey, who made the stunning revelation Monday at LSU’s open practice.
“I’ve had some of my former teammates tell me, ‘We’re going to do it.’ That’s why I share these things. I’m an open book if it’s something that can help people. It’s just a great lesson for all of us who think that it won’t happen to us.”
Mulkey explained she experienced numbness in the tip of her middle finger on her left hand, which led to her visiting the doctor, who discovered the blocked artery.
After the tingling went on for months, Mulkey got it checked out, only to be diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome.
A separate scan of her neck — which she requested as a precaution following a disc-replacement surgery in 2018 when still coaching at Baylor — found plaque in her carotid arteries, which led to a stress test.
Mulkey recalled a conversation with her doctor, who informed her that she was an asymptomatic patient.
“I asked if I was likely to have had a heart attack without the procedure, and he said, ‘Yes, eventually,'” Mulkey said.
“I said, ‘Will I feel any different now?’ and he said, ‘No, because you didn’t have symptoms.’ And I feel fine, just like I did before. But it’s really encouraged me to tell people that if you can, get your heart checked.'”
Mulkey is taking medication, including a cholesterol pill, a beta blocker and a blood thinner, to address the issue with her carotid arteries, according to ESPN.
“As an athlete, your body gives you signals with injuries. And even with non-athletic things like kidney stones, you definitely feel it,” Mulkey said.
“The issue with my heart, it was really just luck that we found it. So I will keep telling people, ‘Get yourself checked out. You have nothing to lose, and it could save your life.'”
Mulkey explained the procedure was pushed back to June due to previously planned trips, including LSU’s White House visit with President Joe Biden and the First Lady, Jill Biden, on May 26.
Elsewhere during Monday’s open practice, fans gathered at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center to catch Mulkey and the reigning champions.
The team was also scheduled to have CPR training on Tuesday.
The LSU board of supervisors approved a 10-year, $36 million contract extension for Mulkey earlier this month, which makes her the highest-paid women’s basketball coach in the nation.
The Lady Tigers open the 2023 season versus Colorado on Nov. 6.