Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce

03/01/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/01/2021 12:42

Winneshiek Medical Center, Gundersen Health System collaborate for coordinated “Return to Sport” plans after COVID-19 infection for student athletes

Winneshiek Medical Center, Gundersen Health System collaborate for coordinated 'Return to Sport' plans after COVID-19 infection for student athletes

The long-term effects of COVID-19 are unknown and may be far-reaching. One group at risk
for complications after a COVID-19 infection is athletes.

'We have heard the stories of professional athletes in top physical form discovering their hearts
are not functioning normally after a COVID-19 infection. The potential for this same
complication exists for our local middle school, high school and college athletes, and the
physician groups of our community have come together and created a protocol to monitor
athletes as they return to their sport,' says Eric Svestka, M.D., Mayo Clinic Health System
family medicine physician at Winneshiek Medical Center.

The cardiac risks, called myocardial injury or myocarditis, are highest among athletes who are
hospitalized due to a severe COVID-19 infection. Athletes with mild or asymptomatic infections
have decreased risk; however, a phased return-to-sport approach is still recommended to catch
any signs of trouble before it could become a serious problem.

Janet Ryan, M.D., Gundersen Health System family medicine physician says, 'Following the
recommendations of the American College of Cardiology, athletes will be guided by their health
care provider and athletic trainer through a graduated return-to-sport approach, depending on the
severity of their COVID-19 infection. At each phase, the athlete will be monitored for evidence
of cardiac stress/symptoms. ' Symptoms of stress include: dizziness, difficulty breathing, chest
pain/pressure, decreased exercise tolerance, and/or fainting.

The plan is being shared with the school districts of our region to promote a unified approach for
safe return-to-sport. 'Everyone is on the same team, in this case,' says Dr. Svestka. 'Above all,
we want our athletes to be safe. Our collaborative approach to athlete safety will, hopefully,
prevent an athlete from experiencing cardiac distress, and at the most severe level, prevent
sudden cardiac death in practice or during competition. We appreciate the support shown by
school districts, parents and athletes themselves as we work through the challenges of COVID-

If you have concerns about returning to sports following a COVID-19 infection, please call your
primary care provider for guidance specific to your situation.

Submitted: 03/01/21
Article By: Winneshiek Medical Center