NBA insiders are reportedly worried about the longterm effects contracting coronavirus can have on players. Several sources spoke with ESPN regarding lingering heart issues.
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“There are unknown effects it has on lung capacity, unknown effects it has on cardiac health,” an anonymous GM said. “What if a 24-year-old catches it in Orlando and, in 14 days, he quarantines and is fine, but then he has these everlasting heart problems? [Or he] gets winded so easily, or he becomes a little bit too susceptible to fatigue? … These are all the unknowns.”
NBA Director of Sports Medicine John DiFiori says any player who tests positive for be out for a minimum of two weeks and will undergo a “COVID-19 Pre-Participation Cardiac Screening.”
“The amount of cardiac damage can increase if you continue to exercise in the face of an active infection,” said Matthew Martinez, a consulting cardiologist for NBA. “So you’re somebody with a low-grade fever, and you have a little bit of symptoms. And, a week later, you’re fine. Do you have cardiac involvement? Now, if you’re a regular person, like me, and you’re going to go do your [two- to three-mile runs] every day … that’s a different discussion than if you’re a professional athlete. So that’s the reason why we worry about it that that high level of exercise intensity can increase your risk of having an adverse event when there’s cardiac damage related to a virus.”
Many are worried about how intense physical activity could exacerbate the long-term effects.
“If you don’t feel well, don’t try to push through this. This is not a situation where anyone, whether you’re an athlete or not, should try to push through or minimize symptoms or try to ignore symptoms and try to push through to try to continue to work or continue to play a sport.”