The towering Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight says the condition is something he's had his entire life, and has managed to be able to participate in a strenuous sport such as MMA and be successful at it, too, collecting a 26-6 record (9-4 UFC), despite having a heart the only works 70-percent, according to the Dutchman.
Struve revealed during his recent appearance on "The MMA Hour" that he will continue his prescribed medication in hopes to lower his blood pressure, so that the actual pressure on his heart chamber goes down and slows down the leakage in his aortic valve.
Something that initially had him scared out of his mind:
"A couple of weeks ago, almost a month ago now, they did an ECHO of my heart as a routine test. I was standing with a lady who was doing the test. She was nice and friendly. In the test, you can see your heart beating and your blood flowing. All of a sudden, she got a little quiet. ‘Is something wrong,' I asked. She said, 'I can't tell. We need to ask the cardiologist to explain what's going on.'"
After consulting with cardiologists, Struve received the news that he indeed had a tear in his aorta. However, an MRI revealed the leak didn't require immediate surgery:
"I had to get an MRI immediately to find out what was going on. You have to understand, I was scared as hell. I was thinking, 'Maybe I'll have open heart surgery tonight.' But everything was okay with the aorta. The only thing that was wrong was a leaking aortic valve and an enlarged heart."
Sooner or later, Struve says he will have to go under the knife in order to correct the issue, it's just a simple matter of when. Regardless, "Skyscraper" says he will return to fighting if everything goes well and the doctors clear him to compete.
"Well, it needs to heal really good. You need to take your time with that. But, I got a lot of messages from a lot of people who practice a lot of sports, and I got messages that people did a triathlon about four months later. It's nothing even compared to when you're going to the cage and your body needs to, you know, endure. Most people say that after the surgery, they are more energetic. When I was training, like around five or six I was really tired, it was really weird. But, I'm going to get through this."
Struve was initially told by doctors his combat sports career was over, something Stefan says he refused to accept. Willing to do "whatever it takes" to remain an MMA fighter in the future, Struve is okay with taking the time to take care of his health issues right now.