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COVID-19 and Its Potential Cardiac Effects on Athletes

COVID-19 and Its Potential Cardiac Effects on Athletes

COVID-19 and Myocarditis

Whether you’re preparing for this fall’s football season or you exercise to stay in shape, the risk of developing myocarditis while sick with COVID-19 may pose a problem. Methodist Sports Medicine is here to give you some additional insight into how the Coronavirus can negatively impact heart function and what that may mean for your physical activity levels.

What is Myocarditis?

Myocarditis is characterized by the inflammation of the heart muscle, which causes the heart to slow down and pump blood throughout your body less efficiently. When you get sick with COVID-19, your body releases hormones as an immune response. This surge in hormones can also overwhelm the heart.

Signs and symptoms

Although the symptoms associated with myocarditis can vary depending on its severity, there are some symptoms that can point to inflammation of the heart.

Signs and symptoms of myocarditis can include:

  • Temporarily abnormal EKG results
  • Fever
  • Chest pain
  • Cardiac arrhythmias (abnormally fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat)
  • Sudden loss of consciousness
  • Shortness of breath

It is also important to note that there are many cases where people display no symptoms at all.

What That Means for Athletes

Athletes typically have much higher cardiac function than the average person. If they become sick with a mild or asymptomatic case of COVID-19, deconditioning can occur, causing their cardiac function to become reduced to a more “normal” level. Studies have shown that athletes can continue to feel these effects up to two months after recovering from COVID-19.

Returning to Physical Activity

If you’ve tested positive for COIVD-19, the recommendations when it comes to returning to physical activity are dependent on the severity of your symptoms.

  • Asymptomatic: It is recommended that you go 2 weeks without excessive physical exertion as you can trigger inflammation.
  • Minimal to mild symptoms: Rest and hydration with no physical activity are recommended, returning to activity after 2 weeks of showing no symptoms.
  • Severe symptoms: Must be cleared and monitored for 2 weeks before a cardiologist can clear you for activity.

It is also important to note that you should slowly reintroduce physical activity into your routine after recovering from COVID-19.

Sports Medicine in Dallas and Fort Worth

If you’ve sustained a sports injury, or you want to improve your overall athletic ability, Methodist Sports Medicine can help. See our full list of services or contact us for an appointment today.