Q: My 17-year-old son plays lacrosse and basketball on his school teams (when they’re playing). In late April, he contracted a mild case of COVID-19. His symptoms have been gone for about two weeks and tests show he has COVID-19 antibodies. He wants to start running and working out regularly so he can be in shape when the sports teams start up again. Is it safe for his health and for others? — Hank J., Austin, Texas
A: The American College of Cardiology’s Sports & Exercise Cardiology Council, with input from national leaders in sports cardiology, has put out a document that outlines what we know, what can be recommended, and what cautions should be taken to protect the heart health of competitive athletes and highly active folks who have recovered from COVID-19.
They point out that evidence of acute cardiac injury is found in up to 22% of people who are hospitalized with COVID-19. In contrast, other acute viral infections trigger such heart woes in only about 1% of patients. For these folks, the experts say it’s vital they take it easy for three to six months once symptoms go away and that they be screened for any persistent cardiac abnormalities, such as irregular heartbeat. They should return to vigorous exercise only when they no longer have any biomarkers for inflammation, arrhythmias or heart valve dysfunction.
For other athletes, like your son, who had a mild case and were not hospitalized, the experts recommend a minimum of two weeks with no exercise training once symptoms have gone away and a careful evaluation that includes looking at cardiac biomarkers (such as enzymes in the heart muscle or blood) and imaging.
With no symptoms and no evidence of heart problems, it’s OK to return to exercise training. Ongoing monitoring to spot pop-up heart problems should continue, however. Also, he might see an adult cardiologist for an enzyme test after a workout. If it’s negative, he should then follow up regularly to spot any new symptoms.
Q: I am so confused by all the info that I see about the coronavirus — often contradictory and sometimes downright weird. How can I make sure I am getting reliable information and advice? — Joyce F., Franklin, Tennessee
A: That’s an important — and smart — question, since misleading or false information about the pandemic jeopardizes your physical and financial health — and that of everyone else as well. New research reveals just how widespread and influential it is.
According to a groundbreaking study published in BMJ Global Health, more than one in four of the most-viewed English language COVID-19 videos on YouTube contains misleading or inaccurate information.
Canadian researchers looked at 69 videos that had garnered 257,804,146 views and evaluated them on the information they contained about viral spread, typical symptoms, prevention, possible treatments and epidemiology.
The sources of the videos were: network news (29%); consumers (22%); entertainment news (21%); internet news (12%); professionals (7%); newspapers (5%); educational bodies (2%); and government agencies (2%).
Nineteen of the videos that had been viewed 62,042,609 times contained faulty info: Entertainment sources and network and internet news were the biggest wrong-doers. The videos they created were dishing out false theories that pharmaceutical companies already have a cure but refuse to sell it and that certain countries have stronger strains of coronavirus, as well as racist and discriminatory remarks, conspiracy theories and inappropriate recommendations for the general public.
So where can you turn for reliable, up-to-date information on COVID-19?
— The Cleveland Clinic offers easy-to-understand basics. Go to my.clevelandclinic.org and search for “coronavirus.”
— And if you are interested in the White House’s original, 68-page Opening Up American Again document that outlines the benchmarks of progress that must be met to safely reopen, check out https://www.whitehouse.gov/openingamerica.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chairman of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.