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Norton Healthcare studies effect of COVID-19 on college athletes and their hearts

There are still unknowns when it comes to the long-term effects of COVID-19. New studies find that heart issues are becoming more prevalent after getting the virus.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — New studies on COVID-19 say that heart issues are showing up in people who have recovered from the virus. Norton Healthcare is partnering with University of Louisville and Bellarmine University athletes to ensure when they recover from COVID-19, they're at top health. 

"The reason it's so important is because we don't know the long term affects of the virus as it pertains to the heart," said Dr. Scotty Newcomer who is a Physician at Norton Sports Health. 

After doing a ten-day quarantine, athletes are given cardiac testing including labs and EKG testing which looks at the electrical movement of the heart. "And then also an echo which is actually an ultrasound of the heart to make sure everything's moving like it's supposed to and we don't see any abnormalities there," said Newcomer.

They also get a physical exam before being cleared to start the Return to Play Progression Protocol. "We start them slow and not pushing them real hard and then we progressively increase that and push them more and more," said Newcomer.

What they're looking for is myocarditis which is heart muscle inflammation. Doctor Newcomer said all the doctors with the ACC meet every other week and some schools have seen cases of myocarditis. All but one were asymptomatic.  

"Just at this point we've been really blessed that we haven't seen any major effects or events from this," said Newcomer.

With so many unknowns, they're taking every precaution. "If they lose any function of their heart, they won't be able to perform to the level that they're used to or that's required of them," said Newcomer.

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