Resuming Training in High-Level Athletes After Mild COVID-19 Infection: A Multicenter Prospective Study (ASCCOVID-19)

Sports Med Open. 2022 Jun 25;8(1):83. doi: 10.1186/s40798-022-00469-0.


Background: There is a paucity of data on cardiovascular sequelae of asymptomatic/mildly symptomatic SARS-Cov-2 infections (COVID).

Objectives: The aim of this prospective study was to characterize the cardiovascular sequelae of asymptomatic/mildly symptomatic COVID-19 among high/elite-level athletes.

Methods: 950 athletes (779 professional French National Rugby League (F-NRL) players; 171 student athletes) were included. SARS-Cov-2 testing was performed at inclusion, and F-NRL athletes were intensely followed-up for incident COVID-19. Athletes underwent ECG and biomarker profiling (D-Dimer, troponin, C-reactive protein). COVID(+) athletes underwent additional exercise testing, echocardiography and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR).

Results: 285/950 athletes (30.0%) had mild/asymptomatic COVID-19 [79 (8.3%) at inclusion (COVID(+)prevalent); 206 (28.3%) during follow-up (COVID(+)incident)]. 2.6% COVID(+) athletes had abnormal ECGs, while 0.4% had an abnormal echocardiogram. During stress testing (following 7-day rest), COVID(+) athletes had a functional capacity of 12.8 ± 2.7 METS with only stress-induced premature ventricular ectopy in 10 (4.3%). Prevalence of CMR scar was comparable between COVID(+) athletes and controls [COVID(+) vs. COVID(-); 1/102 (1.0%) vs 1/28 (3.6%)]. During 289 ± 56 days follow-up, one athlete had ventricular tachycardia, with no obvious link with a SARS-CoV-2 infection. The proportion with troponin I and CRP values above the upper-limit threshold was comparable between pre- and post-infection (5.9% vs 5.9%, and 5.6% vs 8.7%, respectively). The proportion with D-Dimer values above the upper-limit threshold increased when comparing pre- and post-infection (7.9% vs 17.3%, P = 0.01).

Conclusion: The absence of cardiac sequelae in pauci/asymptomatic COVID(+) athletes is reassuring and argues against the need for systematic cardiac assessment prior to resumption of training (; NCT04936503).

Keywords: Cardiac MRI; ECG; Echocardiography; SARS-CoV-2; Sport; Stress test.

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