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Rockies President Keli McGregor Died From Viral Heart Infection, Family Says

Aug 30, 2010 – 7:41 PM
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Pat Lackey

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Keli McGregorWhen Rockies' President Keli McGregor died unexpectedly in April, both his family and the Rockies family alike had one huge question. Just what was it that struck down the healthy, 48-year-old former athlete?

They finally had an answer Monday. McGregor's family issued a statement today saying that McGregor's cause of death was a viral infection that caused lymphocytic myocarditis. The virus disrupted the signals that cause the heart to beat properly, resulting in McGregor's death.

In simpler terms, the virus infected McGregor's heart instead of, for example, the respiratory tract, the way a common cold virus might. The reason that McGregor's infection was undetected is because the only signs he displayed were "flu-like symptoms," which likely resulted from the body's response to the viral invader.

It's rare for viruses to attack the heart and even rarer for one to completely disrupt its function the way the virus that infected McGregor did.

As a result, there was nothing McGregor, who his family described as "a strong advocate for the early detection and prevention of cardiac disease," or anyone could do to prevent his death.

Prior to his death, McGregor had been a part of the Rockies' organization since their inception in 1993 and was named team president in 2001. The team has worn commemorative patches for him since his death in April.

Read the full statement below:
Keli McGregor had the heart of a lion. He did not die of a heart attack or of any other preventable heart condition. Instead, his healthy heart was attacked by a rare virus which unfortunately infected the heart muscle, causing the lymphocytic myocarditis that led to Keli's death. In an unusual manifestation of a viral illness, this organism infiltrated his heart muscle and disrupted the electrical pathways that signal the heart to beat properly. The heart muscle may have recovered from the viral attack had these electrical pathways not been destroyed, but the muscle may have been permanently weakened and destined for eventual heart failure. This infectious process most likely occurred during the last week of Keli's life, causing nothing more than flu-like symptoms. Just as a healthy brain can be infected with viral meningitis, a healthy heart can be infected with viral myocarditis. Fortunately, the vast majority of viral illnesses do not damage the heart or the brain.

Keli McGregor was a champion of the physical and spiritual health of the heart. He acted as a strong advocate for the early detection and prevention of cardiovascular disease, both with the Rockies and throughout Denver and Colorado. Keli lived an active life and had his cardiovascular status evaluated regularly. Unfortunately, even a heart as strong as Keli's can, in rare cases, fall victim to these microscopic viral invaders.

Like you, we miss Keli every minute of every day. We're so very grateful for the love and support shown to our family and we wanted to share this information with all of those who, like us, have searched for answers.
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