The situation is real
FEEL THE GAME - Bobby Motus (The Freeman) - September 25, 2020 - 12:00am

A slight rise in CoVid-19 infection has been noted and in some parts of the country, authorities label it as a “mini surge”.  We are all vulnerable to diseases and depending on how strong our immune systems are, we could get sick faster than a speeding bullet or have viral infections yet still feel like Superman.

53-year old Ken Koontz is an established swimmer, a 16-time Ironman and a professional triathlon coach yet sometime in July, he tested positive of the coronavirus.   Because he’s an endurance athlete, he thought that he would quickly recover from the disease.

He felt better after a few days and started with moderate strength training but what would have been easy for him turned out to be taxing.  “My heart was pounding.  After just a few intervals, I was gasping for breath.”  Getting into the pool, he had soreness which he knew from his fitness career, that his muscles were not getting enough oxygen.  Koontz struggled with his workout.

A life-threatening inflammation of the heart caused by a virus is myocarditis.  Heart palpitations and shortness of breath even while exercising are the signs of the disease.  Other symptoms are fatigue, chest pains especially while lying down and swelling in legs, ankles or feet.  It can go away on its own with rest but for athlete-level workouts before the heart can recover fully, it could be fatal.

Atlanta Emory Healthcare Chief of Sports Cardiology, Dr. Jonathan Kim, said, “For athletes, myocarditis is a sudden cause of sudden cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac death.”  Doctors usually recommend at least three months of rest for athletes with myocarditis.  That’s why Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez was sidelined for the rest of the season because of a heart problem caused by CoVid-19.

US hospital data suggest that 1 in 5 people admitted for the corona virus end up with heart injury.  Likewise, people who don’t go to the hospital could also end up with heart problems.  Considered as mild to moderate cases, 80% of those home recoveries had abnormal bloodwork, changes in MRI and heart inflammation after several weeks.

It’s not only the elderly and those with medical conditions that get hit but also young adults and even elite athletes.   So, cool kids, take heed.  This is a new virus and doctors are still not sure about the effects and long-term problems that the disease could bring.  Our local officials and health authorities are not remiss in their precautions, yet, for reasons that contradict sanity, some of us strut around disregarding health protocols.

There are evidences that anyone who gets the virus faces the risk of heart damage.  Eugene Chung, Director of Sports Cardiology at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center said, “With any viral infection, there’s the potential to affect the heart, but CoVid-19 seems to affect the heart more than other viruses.”

To date, there is not enough information to report precisely who is at risk of heart injury, how high that risk could be and its far-reaching effects but things are pointing to some levels of risk for anyone who gets the virus.  “We’re still learning as we go.  I’m hoping over the next several months, we’ll have enough experience and enough reports about who may be at higher risk”, Dr. Chung says.

As to Koontz, he has modified hi workouts and is starting to feel better.  “I always thought I could fix everything with diet and exercise.  This can happen to everybody and the long-term effects are way too concerning to me right now than death.”

Several local personalities had fallen to the virus, not because they had been negligent but because their work requires them to interact with people.  This is what exactly happened to a close friend and colleague several weeks ago who sadly surrendered to the disease. 

Athletes and ordinary mortals, we’re all at risk so let’s not tempt fate.  Take the effects of CoVid-19 seriously because the situation freaking is real.

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