The truth revealed an exclusive look into why Mario Lemieux really hung up
his skates

MONTREAL, Jan. 19 /CNW Telbec/ - When hockey great Mario Lemieux retired in 2006, no one really knew the severity of his heart condition. On newsstands today, Reader's Digest magazine shares a candid interview with "Super Mario" that recounts his struggle to understand and overcome the condition that led him to hang up his skates for good.

In this exclusive interview for Reader's Digest by sports commentator Gord Miller, Mario Lemieux shares how atrial fibrillation (AF or A-fib), a condition more commonly known as an irregular or rapid heartbeat, affected his life and ultimately resulted in his final retirement from hockey in January 2006.

"We were honoured when Mario approached us to help tell his story," shares VP/Editor in Chief, Robert Goyette. "Since Mario very rarely conducts media interviews, we knew that what he had to share would be of great importance, and we were delighted that he chose us to exclusively help spread his message about AF and generate a greater awareness of this misunderstood condition."

The hockey legend first noticed symptoms in the summer of 2005. "The first really bad episode was the Wednesday morning of my celebrity charity golf tournament in Pittsburgh. I got up and started having an irregular heartbeat," shares Lemieux. However, Lemieux was unaware of the seriousness of his condition until it started to affect him outside of the rink. He recalls experiencing dizziness and even the sensation of having a heart attack, but every time he would visit his doctor after an "episode," his heartbeat would return to a normal rhythm and they were unable to catch any irregularities.

It was not until December 2005, when Lemieux was hospitalized as a result of his episodes that a proper diagnosis was made-atrial fibrillation. It was then that Lemieux decided his health was more important than playing the game.

"No one knew how debilitating the condition was for him," reveals Pierre McGuire, friend and former coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins. "Mario is an extremely private person and it was a difficult decision for him to make, but the priority was to take care of himself and his health. And now, by choosing to share his story with Reader's Digest, he's sure to reach millions with his message about AF."

Affecting nearly a quarter of a million Canadians, AF can have a devastating effect on a sufferer's quality of life. Without proper management, AF can be potentially life-threatening-in fact, aside from symptoms that can mimic a heart attack; the greatest health danger that can result from AF is a stroke. But over the last few years, advances have been made and a new treatment, ablation surgery, is one that retired hockey legend Mario Lemieux had in February 2006.

Now enjoying a "normal" life, Lemieux is dedicated to educating Canadians about AF and through his exclusive interview with Reader's Digest, he hopes to encourage others with similar symptoms to speak with their doctors and understand their treatment options. As Lemieux points out, "Once you fix the problem, you can have a normal life."

Mario Lemieux's story will be shared with readers in the February issues of Reader's Digest and Sélection magazine and online at www.readersdigest.ca/mario.

Reader's Digest is a leading Canadian multi-brand media and marketing company that educates, entertains and inspires, connecting audiences throughout Canada. It publishes five magazines, including Reader's Digest and Sélection, Canada's most read magazines with 7.5 million readers a month. It has recently launched Best Health, a healthy lifestyle magazine for Canadian women and More of Our Canada, a companion magazine to the very popular Our Canada magazine. Along with being a premier publisher of books, music and video products, it operates a network of branded websites in Canada, including readersdigest.ca, selection.ca, ourcanada.ca, besthealthmag.ca, allrecipes.ca, allrecipes.qc.ca and tasteofhome.com.

Reader's Digest VP/Editor in Chief Robert Goyette is available for media interviews.

SOURCE The Reader's Digest Association (Canada) ULC

For further information: For further information: Kelly Hyatt, smitten creative boutique, (905) 599-1132, kelly@smittencreative.com

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