Jul 15, 2020
NFHS-AMSSM Releases Guidance In Assessing Cardiac Issues

A guidance document for assessing potential cardiac issues in high school student-athletes with COVID-19 infections has been released in a collaboration with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM).

An appointed expert medical task force put the guidelines together and is included in the “Cardiopulmonary Considerations for High School Student-Athletes During the COVID-19 Pandemic: NFHS-AMSSM Guidance Statement”, which was published in Sports Health, an online journal of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM).

nfhs-amssm“COVID-19 has raised many concerns regarding the health and safety of athletes,” Jonathan Drezner, M.D., director of the University of Washington Medicine Center for Sports Cardiology, past president of the AMSSM and co-chair of the NFHS-AMSSM task force, said in an issued press release. “The risk of heart and lung involvement is likely related to the severity of the illness. This guidance statement addresses important cardiac considerations and the suggested evaluation of high school student-athletes with past or new COVID-19.”

Before returning to athletic activities this fall, the NFHS-AMSSM Guidance Statement recommends student-athletes complete a COVID-19 questionnaire. If a student-athlete had a previous COVID-19 related illness, the guidelines recommend some of the following:

• Student-athletes with a prior confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis should undergo an evaluation by their medical provider. Written medical clearance is recommended prior to participation.

• Student-athletes who had mild COVID-19 symptoms that were managed at home should be seen by their medical provider for any persisting symptoms. An electrocardiogram (ECG) may be considered prior to sports participation.

• Student-athletes who were hospitalized with severe illness from COVID-19 have a higher risk for heart or lung complications. A comprehensive cardiac evaluation is recommended in consultation with a cardiology specialist.

• Student-athletes with ongoing symptoms from diagnosed COVID-19 illness require a comprehensive evaluation to exclude heart and lung disorders that carry a risk of arrhythmia, respiratory compromise, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), or sudden death. These individuals should not return to sports until medically cleared by a physician.

• In addition, student-athletes should be evaluated by their medical provider if they have had close contact with family members with confirmed COVID-19 cases, if they have underlying medical conditions that place them at a higher risk of COVID-19 or if they had previous symptoms suggestive of COVID-19.

» ALSO SEE: Breaks, Hydration at Higher Importance With Masks Worn

“This document is the result of an outstanding collaborative effort between the NFHS and the AMSSM, with the goal of helping to safely return student-athletes affected by COVID-19 to sports activities,” said Bill Heinz, M.D., former chair of the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and co-chair of the NFHS-AMSSM task force. “With so much unknown about the illness and its long-term effects, we called on nationally and internationally known experts to help develop guidelines for safe return to play that can be used by athletic administrators, coaches, team physicians, and athletic trainers.”

Regarding new COVID-19 infections, the task force suggests that schools develop a daily tracking tool to ensure that student-athletes are self-monitoring and have not developed COVID-19 symptoms.

To read the full release from the NFHS on the NFHS-AMSSM Guidance Statement, click here

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