Covid-19: NBA doctors worried about heart and lung damage

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While theCovid-19 outbreak is considered “uncontrollable” in most states in the United States, the NBA has taken up residence in its “bubble” of Disney World, isolated from the population. Among this contingent of about 2,000 people, a small proportion tested positive for coronavirus. There was Rudy Gobert, Marcus Smart and Donovan Mitchell in March, and in recent weeks there have been more cases since the NBA imposed almost daily tests.

But the concerns of the NBA do not concern only positive tests since doctors are wondering about the consequences of the disease. As explained Rudy Gobert, some symptoms are still present long after recovery, and as it is, we do not know the effects of the disease in the medium term on organs, such as the brain, heart and lungs, but also the nervous system.

« There are unknown effects on respiratory capacity and heart health Explains a GM to ESPN. ” What happens if a 24-year-old player catches him in Orlando, and then after 14 days of quarantine, is cured but still has heart problems? Or does it run out of steam quickly or get tired too quickly? There are lots of unknowns. »

The most important thing, according to the doctors, is to respect the quarantine period, and especially the rest period. If a player is infected, he should not practice. ” Damage to the heart can increase if you continue training during the active phase of infection Warns Matthew Martinez, a cardiologist who works for the players’ union. ” This is the reason why we are concerned that very intense activity can increase the risk of suffering from undesirable effects linked to the damage caused by the virus on the heart. »

“Basketball players are the sportsmen most affected by deaths due to an enlarged heart”

It is for this reason that at the end of the quarantine, all the players undergo coronarography within the framework of a very strict protocol set up for the resumption of activity. The Sports College Cardiology Council of the American College of Cardiology notes that ” acute heart damage… can reach up to 22% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19, which is significantly higher compared to the prevalence of around 1% in non-COVID-19 acute viral infections« .

In addition, John DiFiori, head of sports medicine for the NBA, reports that the league also relies on studies carried out on patients hospitalized with COVID-19. ” These data show that there are probably two different ways for the virus to affect the heart. The first is a direct effect of the virus itself on heart muscle and heart function, and the second is a kind of indirect response where the virus stimulates an exaggerated inflammatory response, and this inflammatory response can affect heart function.. We know that people who contract viral diseases can develop myocarditis. It’s quite rare, but we also know that exercise and genetic predisposition for myocarditis can be a major concern. So we have to be very careful with this possibility. »

If the pulmonary part is not neglected, it is the heart that remains the priority of the doctors involved in this recovery of the NBA. ” There have been discussions and reflections within the sports medicine community and specialists in cardiology and pulmonology “Concludes DiFiori. ” If we are currently focused more on the cardiac side, it is because of the potential immediate serious consequences in the short term« .

It is for this reason that the NBA will be very careful with players who resume competition after being infected with the virus. This evokes individual monitoring and regular heart tests to detect and manage the slightest anomaly. In 2016, a study by the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and the Columbia University Medical Center found that basketball players were the sportspeople most affected by deaths from an enlarged heart, a condition that could be aggravated by Covid-19.

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