Rare heart condition linked to COVID-positive athletes

by Molly Reed

Tuesday, August 11th 2020

DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - The Big Ten conference made the decision Tuesday afternoon to cancel fall sports.

Part of the other reason Big Ten leaders made that decision was that at least five athletes in the conference were diagnosed with a heart condition that can be caused by viruses like COVID, ESPN reported.

While researchers are just starting to link it, myocarditis is one of the after-effects of COVID that doctors said could be deadly, especially for athletes.

Several college athletes, besides those five in the Big Ten, have also tested positive for it and professional athletes, such as Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez.

"They would show signs of cardiac symptoms, either dizziness or chest pains or shortness of breath," said Dr. Zakaria Sheikhaden, a Cardiologist with Premier Cardiovascular Institute.

Sheikhaden said the disease is usually caused by viral infections and left undiagnosed, could lead to sudden cardiac arrest, which can be deadly.

Catching it can also be tough and costly.

"Through an EKG as well as echo cardiogram which is an ultrasound of the heart just to look for muscle injury or structural injury to the heart," said Sheikhaden.

Depending on the level of cardiac testing, it can cost patients anywhere from $50 to $500.

If caught, though, most athletes can return to play after resting for three to six months. In others, it can cause permanent damage.

"Not every patient who gets COVID has the risk of having myocarditis or complications from the cardiac perspective," said Sheikhaden, "I hate to say it but we're still figuring out things but there's definitely a risk for a lot of these student athletes"

Looking out for another heart condition is just another new duty athletic trainers have added to their plate.

"We're helping to make sure they're social distancing on the sidelines. If they're not actively participating they're wearing masks," said Michelle Reinsmith, an athletic trainer with Kettering Health Network.

Reinsmith added they also check temperatures and keep a close eye on athletes' symptoms.

"You get to know your athletes very well since you spend every day with them that you're working with them with sports," she said.

While sudden cardiac arrest symptoms are always something trainers look out for, the new research about myocarditis is something Reinsmith said they'll have to keep a close eye on.

"Everything is still developing, it's all so new. We might not know those results for a while now," she said.

Roles of high school athletic trainers change amidst pandemic

By: Evan Millward

Posted at 6:40 AM, Aug 10, 2020 and last updated 7:29 AM, Aug 10, 2020

WYOMING, Ohio — While government officials continue to work on how to resume high school sports for the fall season, high school athletic trainers have seen their roles shift during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's been a lot of just learning on the fly," Alli King, an athletic trainer with Beacon Orthopedics, said. "A lot of cleaning and just educating the coaches and the athletes on what they need to do..."

Athletic trainers usually help make sure athletes are in top physical health so they can continue playing their sport. Now, their roles include new responsibilities like checking the temperatures of all athletes and staff members, as well as keeping track of which athletes missed a practice.

"We do a survey every day and trace what all athletes and coaches were here at practices for each practice, each day," King said. "If for some reason we have an exposure, I go back and see the last time that person was there and who all could have been exposed."

And all the work King and athletic trainers have put in to make sure their athletes are healthy hasn't gone unnoticed.

"She led the charge, certainly with our coaches, and that's really made the difference in being able to pivot constantly," Jan Wilking, Wyoming High School's athletic director, said.

However, some schools have laid off or furloughed their athletic trainers. King thinks those layoffs are a mistake.

"I think this is the wrong time to do it," King said. "This is important. You need more hands on deck."