Monday morning. Dallas, TX I am now having full blown Open Heart Surgery. They say it's tough surgery to get through. Wish me luck I am gonna need it.— Big Van Vader (@itsvadertime) March 22, 2018
Vader previously said in a tweet on Mar. 12 that he would be undergoing heart surgery the following day. It's unclear whether the surgery got delayed until next week or if he's undergoing a second procedure.
Going in the hospital in the Am for heart surgery wish me luck and my Dr a good night's rest— Big Van Vader (@itsvadertime) March 13, 2018
On November 14, 2016, Vader announced that he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure due to his football and wrestling careers. He visited two heart doctors and they told him he has only two years left to live.
Told by 2.heart Drs at this time that my heart is wore out from footbal&wrestling I have 2 yrs to live , conjestive hesrt failure reality— Big Van Vader (@itsvadertime) November 15, 2016
Vader found out about the diagnosis after being involved in a roll-over car accident, which left him unconscious for 35 minutes. In December 2016, he explained to Hannibal TV:
"I was in the medical center and I was seeing my doctor, who is actually an MD, and heart specialists came into my room. They said 'We've been looking at your heart' and I said 'Who are you?' I didn't recognize the guy. He said 'You have two years to live. We've been looking at your heart, and that's the deal.'
"It wasn't much longer than that when he came back in the room — cause he left and obviously I had a bunch of questions and I'm in the process of answering those questions at this point. So for me to start talking would probably be premature at this point.
"I've been in the gym, I feel okay, I've been feeling pretty good actually. I don't know exactly what he's talking about or if something will show itself up in weeks to come, but right now I'm still trying to figure out exactly what's going on."
A few months later, Vader regretted tweeting that he only has two years left to live. He explained to Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling last March:
"I really kind of regret tweeting it out. In other words when I got diagnosed and was told, "Leon, you have a bad heart and you have congestive heart failure and we feel your time is limited and you have maybe a couple of years left... two years or less to live.
"I remember getting very angry and said this has gotta be bulls--t because I don't feel bad and I remember getting extremely angry. Since that time and when I got the news I left the hospital and went right to the gym and rode the bike for a half hour. Hard. As hard as I could and when I got off the bike and got on the treadmill and walked for another 15 minutes pretty hard and I was exhausted but my heart felt fine so how can I do that if my heart is going to give out?
"The doctor in some of the ongoing appointments that I had with him explained to me that when you are tipping the scales at 400 and 420-25 pounds that a man that size and that heavy isn't supposed to be able to push himself in a cardiovascular endeavor no matter what it is much past 2 or 3 minutes."
Vader went on to say that he will continue to wrestle and that if the tests are proven to be true, he would like to die in the ring. However, in April, he passed out after a match in Japan due to a head injury. He apparently hasn't wrestled since then.