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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Daugherty’s prognosis for recovery good

Washington State University women’s basketball coach June Daugherty’s condition is improving after entering cardiac arrest at a medical clinic in Everett on Tuesday afternoon.

On Wednesday morning, the Providence Everett Medical Center announced that Daugherty was listed in serious condition, upgraded from critical. In the afternoon, a spokeswoman at the hospital said things had improved further, after speaking with Daugherty’s husband, Mike.

“June is progressing well,” the spokeswoman said. “She’s off the assisted devices. And she’s alert and talking. He said her prognosis is favorable.”

Daugherty did not suffer a heart attack, as was initially reported. A heart attack is one potential cause of cardiac arrest, but tests revealed that she did not have any blockage and thus the pulmonary issues occurred for another reason.

Dr. Michael Ring, the medical director of cardiac services at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, said any number of problems can cause cardiac arrest, including but not limited to an irregular heartbeat, a reaction to medication and an electrolyte abnormality.

Given the fact that Daugherty, 50, had the episode while already at a medical facility and that she is now responsive, it would appear that she is on track for a successful recovery, based on some of the criteria described by Ring.

“You try to figure out if there are any contributing factors, like if it was due to medication or a metabolic problem if their potassium is too high,” Ring said, adding that many patients who have suffered cardiac arrest then have a defibrillator implanted to monitor the heartbeat. “It’s within the realm of possibility that she could be a coach of a college basketball team. Most likely she couldn’t be a player. If this happened to a player, most likely it would probably preclude them from a competitive athletic career. Put it this way: You could be Vice President of the United States and have a defibrillator. Dick Cheney has one.”

Ring suggested that the recovery time could be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, a timetable that would back the initial assertions from WSU’s athletic department suggesting that Daugherty is expected to continue with her duties as head coach without issue.

Daugherty had to deal with a somewhat similar situation with one of her players at Washington, where she coached for 11 years before having her contract expire and joining WSU on April 20.

Kayla Burt, now an assistant coach at the University of Portland, played for Daugherty at UW and missed 18 months after experiencing cardiac arrest during a game against in 2002. She attempted a comeback in 2004 playing with a defibrillator, but another cardiac episode in January 2006 during a game caused her to end her career immediately.

Even for a coach, coming back from a heart-related incident is not always easy.

Bob Huggins, then the coach at Cincinnati, returned to his team in less than three weeks after a 2002 heart attack. A spokesman at West Virginia, where Huggins now works, said the coach was unavailable to comment.

Phil Kahler, the nation’s most successful Division III women’s basketball coach with more than 700 wins, missed more time. He suffered a heart attack in October and was away from the team for more than two months before returning to his St. John Fisher College squad in Rochester, N.Y.

Kahler said it took a month after he returned midseason for things to return to normal.

“I came back on a limited load,” Kahler said. “I was only here four hours a day if that. Having good assistants really helped me. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t easy on the kids. It was just kind of disruptive, to be honest with you.”

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