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Former Canuck Odjick's illness extremely rare and nearly always fatal: experts

By: The Canadian Press

 | Jun 27, 2014 - 4:20 PM |
Gino Odjick pictured in his Vancouver Canucks team headshot for the 1993-1994 NHL season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

Gino Odjick pictured in his Vancouver Canucks team headshot for the 1993-1994 NHL season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

VANCOUVER - Experts say the heart condition that has left former Vancouver Canucks enforcer Gino Odjick (OH'-jihk) with just months or even weeks to live is extremely rare and nearly always fatal.

Odjick has released an open letter that says he was diagnosed with a terminal condition called AL Amyloidosis (am-ah-LOID-oh-sis).

Dr. Saul Isserow (IS-ah-row), the director of Sports Cardiology B.C., says the condition causes a gelatin-like protein to be deposited in the heart muscle, which affects the organ's ability to expand and contract.

In some cases the disease is linked to an underlying condition such as multiple myeloma, but he says in other instances the cause is unknown.

Symptoms include shortness of breath and water retention, typically culminating in sudden death due to a fatal heart arrhythmia.

Isserow says the prognosis is very poor, with patients often living 12 to 18 months after diagnosis, and there is no known treatment or cure.

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