24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
(800)421-8825
Fax: (361)578-5500

Medical Disorders
Resources
Basic InformationLookupsLatest News
COVID Can Tear Through a Household: CDCU.S Coronavirus Cases Top 9 MIllionGrocery Workers at Greater Risk for COVID Without SymptomsWhat You Need to Know About the Search for a COVID VaccineNearly 1 in 5 COVID-19 Patients May Still Carry VirusTired, Anxious, Overweight: How Lockdowns May Have Harmed Your HealthEli Lilly Antibody Drug Could Prevent COVID Hospitalizations: StudyDeath Rates Are Dropping for New Yorkers With COVID-19 -- Why?Asymptomatic Kids With COVID-19 May Also Carry Less VirusYour Guide to Getting a COVID-19 TestFauci Calls for National Mask MandateSmog Could Increase COVID-19 Deaths by 15% WorldwidePatients With Worst COVID-19 May Be Best Plasma Donors: StudyWill Expelled Droplets Spread COVID? Ventilation May Be KeyPeople With Down Syndrome Face Higher Risk of Severe COVID-19Loss of Smell More Common in COVID-19 Than ThoughtPsoriasis Meds Don't Raise Risk of Severe COVID-19: StudyTrial of Antibody Drug for COVID-19 Stopped for Lack of EffectivenessKnee or Hip Replacements Cut People's Risk for Falls: StudyWhat Will It Take for People to Embrace a COVID Vaccine?Kidney Trouble Greatly Raises Odds for Fatal COVID-19More Evidence Masks Slow COVID's SpreadDangerous COVID-19 Syndrome First Seen in Kids Also Strikes AdultsFading Sense of Smell Could Signal Higher Death Risk in Older AdultsHospitals Straining Under Weight of Surging COVID Case CountsU.S. Daily COVID-19 Case Count Sets New Record for the PandemicAn Unexpected Finding on What Might Drive Joint DiseaseCoronavirus in a Cough: Tests Show Masks Stopping the SpreadU.S. Daily COVID Case Count Nears Record for PandemicCould Common Asthma Meds Weaken Bones?Mask Use by Americans Now Tops 90%, Poll FindsCOVID-19 More Common in Pregnant Hispanics Than Other Moms-to-Be: StudyMore Than Half of Americans Know Someone Infected or Ill With COVID: PollCDC Broadens Definition of 'Close Contact' in Tracing COVID InfectionsAHA News: The Mummies' Message: Take Steps Against Heart DiseasePancreas Cells That Drive Type 1 Diabetes Appear in Healthy People, TooOne Big Reason Women May Be Less Prone to COVID-19New Wave of COVID Infections Taking Hold in AmericaSmog Tied to Raised Risk for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's DiseaseWhat Will Convince Americans to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?Curbing COVID Brought Unexpected Benefit for Asthma Patients1 in 3 Americans With Arthritis Say Pain, Symptoms PersistCDC Recommends Face Masks in All Public Transportation SettingsIn Medieval Times, Plagues 'Sped Up' With Each New OutbreakWhat You Need to Know About Your Colon Cancer RiskNewer Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug May Help Ease Tough-to-Treat CasesCelebrate Autumn Traditions Without Raising Your COVID RiskNew Drug Could Extend Life for People With ALSHeart Defects Don't Increase Risk of Severe COVID-19Chinese COVID Vaccine Shows Promise in Early Trial
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

Diabetes

AHA News: A Closer Look at COVID-19 and Heart Complications Among Athletes


HealthDay News
Updated: Sep 11th 2020

new article illustration

FRIDAY, Sept. 11, 2020 (American Heart Association News) -- Jules Heningburg was sprinting up hills and playing pick-up basketball about a month after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

He was asymptomatic and not contagious. After quarantining and following proper health guidelines, the Premier Lacrosse League player felt fit and ready to return to the field.

His season ended before it began. The 24-year-old Redwoods LC star left the league's bubble in July after doctors said that tests showed he was at high risk for cardiac arrest with high-intensity training.

The evaluation was part of the league's health protocol for players who had tested positive for COVID-19. While the number of such cases known publicly among professional and college athletes is low, cardiologists have been studying the issue closely as pro sports restarted with new health and safety precautions.

Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez is perhaps the highest-profile athlete to sit out after being diagnosed with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. But as the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball seasons wind down, the NFL season is kicking off.

Dr. Benjamin Levine, who has co-authored numerous scientific statements from the American Heart Association about exercise and cardiovascular health, said he is pleased overall with how sports organizations seem to be taking a cautious approach.

"What I hear, and the questions that are asked me are thoughtful and carefully considered and are really focused on athlete safety," said Levine, director of the Institute for Exercise and Medicine at Texas Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and professor of medicine and cardiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

The concern transcends sports. In a small JAMA Cardiology study, researchers found abnormalities in the hearts of 3 in 4 people who had recovered from COVID-19 and "ongoing myocardial inflammation" in more than half.

"We're still learning," said Dr. Matthew Martinez, director of Atlantic Health System Sports Cardiology at Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey. He is the cardiologist for the New York Jets, NBA Players Association and Major League Soccer, as well as a member of the NFL's medical team.

"What we're discovering in early numbers is that the vast majority (of athletes) do well and recover and don't have any short-term complications, and there are a small percentage that seem to have cardiac involvement," he said.

College athletes and conferences are also considering the issue as they weigh how to proceed with fall sports.

Mikele Colasurdo, a freshman quarterback at Georgia State, announced on social media that he was going to sit out this season because of what he described as a heart condition due to his COVID-19 infection. University of Houston defensive lineman Sedrick Williams cited heart complications related to COVID-19 in deciding to sit out his season.

What's needed, according to Martinez, is more data, which pro leagues and the NCAA are in the midst of collecting, including results the NBA and WNBA are expected to release in the next few months.

In a JAMA Cardiology article in May, members of the American College of Cardiology's Sports and Exercise Cardiology Council outlined recommendations to determine when athletes who tested positive for COVID-19 could resume physical activity. For instance, an athlete with mild symptoms who didn't require hospitalization should rest and recover for two weeks after symptoms subside. Then the athlete should undergo further evaluation and medical testing, including an electrocardiogram; echocardiogram; and testing for high levels of the blood enzyme troponin, an indicator of heart damage.

On the other hand, athletes who test positive during routine screening but have no symptoms should rest for two weeks and be monitored carefully when they return to play. They don't necessarily need further evaluation if they remain asymptomatic.

Martinez said professional sports leagues and most of the Power Five conferences – the NCAA's biggest football conferences – have administered comprehensive cardiac testing to any athlete exposed to COVID-19.

Levine is a member of the ACC panel that issued the May recommendations and said the group plans to update the guidance in the near future, taking into account new studies and other information released since spring.

"One of the biggest problems with all of COVID is not so much the virus itself, but this inflammatory or 'cytokine storm,' which occurs as a robust and very vigorous (immune) reaction to the presence of the virus," he said.

After going through his battery of tests at the Premier Lacrosse League's training bubble in Utah, Heningburg said doctors told him that his oxygen saturation levels were dropping at an "alarmingly fast" rate.

"That was the scariest part. I didn't feel it in my body at all working out," Heningburg said. "Right away, the doctors told me that 'you've got to go home.' That's what I've been doing, working out to build my lungs back up."

He's also spent that time working to make a difference in the league and in the community. The second-year player has taken an active role in speaking up about racial justice and equity as a founder of the new Black Lacrosse Alliance, which among other things aims to improve access to the sport for Black people and other people of color.

Heningburg wants to take a lead role in letting people know about the dangers of the coronavirus. He knows his young age and overall health probably shielded him from much of the misery and dangers of COVID-19.

"But we've seen trends where that doesn't matter. We've also seen trends where it can be worse for people who are older, or who are smokers or who have preexisting conditions," he said. "Those people should be even more cautious."

American Heart Association News covers heart and brain health. Not all views expressed in this story reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. If you have questions or comments about this story, please email editor@heart.org.