McGary hopes his heart rhythm is fixed for good

Falcons right tackle Kaleb McGary, who had a heart ablation procedure on July 31, returned to practice on Sunday.

The rookie first-round pick has been cleared for contact by the team, but the team did not practice in pads on Sunday or Monday.

“It feels good to move around,” McGary said Monday. “It’s awesome. It’s been really boring sitting in meetings and not getting to do anything in practice. The gratification that you get through the day is gone. So, it’s been really awesome to get to play again.”

McGary said the procedure was to correct ventricular tachycardia, which is a heart rhythm disorder (arrhythmia) caused by abnormal electrical signals in the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles), according to the Mayo Clinic definition.

McGary had similar procedures in high school and college. The Falcons were aware of his heart condition and he was cleared by the doctors at the NFL scouting combine before being selected 31st overall in April’s NFL draft.

McGary, who was competing for the starting right tackle spot, left practice on July 30 with what the team called an “illness.” He was in a 50-50 time share with the first-team snaps with Ty Sambrailo.

The Falcons have McGary back at the four-week mark after his surgery.

“Six to eight weeks is very common,” said Shephal Doshi, a cardiac electrophysiologist and director of cardiac electrophysiology and pacing at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. “Usually, we do eight to 12 weeks, but because he’s young, he may not need the full 12 weeks, and they can probably get away with eight.

“It depends on how much they burn when they get in there. They may find out they don’t need to burn that much and may just say four weeks. It’s good to plan for six to eight, just in case, but he may have a speedier recovery than that.”

The last time McGary had the procedure, his recovery time was six to eight weeks.

“I wouldn’t say it’s faster than I thought it would be,” McGary said. “I just tried to keep my expectations low and just go along with what the (doctors) say. I’m returning at the pace that the doctors say I should return at. I’m listening to what the team tells me to do.”

McGary’s heart problems surfaced in 2013 during a high school basketball game. He hopes the issue is fully corrected.

“I still had a little bit and it didn’t surface until recently,” McGary said. “It was bummer to have to deal with it again. Of course, nobody wants to go through heart surgery whether if it’s minor or not .... Hopefully, it’s gone for good this time.”

With McGary rebounding and Sambrailo battling back from a shoulder injury, second-year tackle Matt Gono started the last exhibition game against Washington and was working with the first-team offense on Monday.

The Falcons close out the exhibition season against Jacksonville at 7 p.m. Thursday at EverBank Field.


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