Legendary Dolphins coach Don Shula has been hospitalized because of fluid retention and sleep apnea, his wife, Mary Anne Shula, said Tuesday.
“The family is looking for a speedy recovery,” Mary Anne Shula said in a written statement.
Shula was in South Florida when he became ill Monday evening. He is being treated at an undisclosed local hospital.
This is not Shula’s only recent hospitalization, the Miami Herald has learned. He has been in and out in recent weeks. The nature of his previous visit or visits to the hospital was not known.
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Shula, 86, has been slowed in recent years, usually appearing in public using a motorized cart.
Just three weeks ago, he presented Heat president Pat Riley with the Don Shula Legend Award at the annual Reid & Fiorentino Call Of The Game Dinner, a fundraiser supporting Lauren’s Kids and Dade Schools Athletic Foundation.
His wit is still sharp, and he is a regular presence on the Dolphins’ sidelines before home games.
Sleep apnea is a common, but potentially fatal, disorder in which patients “have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths” while they sleep, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
The pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes and occur up to 30 times an hour. If left untreated, the chronic condition can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity and diabetes.
Sleep apnea contributed to the premature death of star Green Bay Packers defensive end Reggie White in 2004.
Those who suffer from sleep apnea are often instructed by doctors to wear continuous positive airway pressure machines while they sleep. The ventilators bypass the obstruction and deliver oxygen to the lungs.
Shula is the winningest coach in NFL history (with 347 regular-season and playoff victories) and a Pro Football Hall of Famer. He is also the owner of a successful chain of steakhouses throughout the country.
Don and Mary Anne Shula live in Indian Creek Island.