The motto of the journal The Physician and Sportsmedicine is, “Exercise is medicine.”
The saying has been proven true — again and again — when it comes to arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and kidney disease. Exercise has been shown to be effective — to some degree — in treating, mitigating, and/or preventing them all.
Add COVID-19 to that list. While exercise may not prevent the infection, it certainly protects against its more serious effects.
A study published online last week by the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) looked at the prevalence of persistent symptoms among NCAA athletes diagnosed with COVID-19 between September 1, 2020 and May 1 of this year.
In all, 3,597 athletes playing 26 sports at 44 schools were diagnosed. Of those, only 44 (1.2%) had symptoms that persisted beyond three weeks and a mere two remained symptomatic at 12 weeks.
By comparison, other studies have demonstrated that prolonged symptoms (more than three weeks) occur among 47% of adult non-athletes who did not require hospitalization. Specifically, another BJSM study, published online in April, looked at nearly 50,000 adult victims of COVID-19 and found physical inactivity was associated with a much higher risk for severe outcomes.
In the current study, the collegians reported loss of taste/smell as the most common prolonged symptom.
Of greater concern to sports medics has been the possibility of heart damage and that complication not becoming apparent until the athlete resumes participation. The worry was triggered by a study of Ohio State athletes that found cardiac involvement among 30% of Buckeyes who had been infected during the summer of 2020. Subsequent, much larger studies of professional and collegiate athletes have determined the incidence of heart damage is much lower, somewhere on the order of 0.5-3.0%.
This latest investigation found that exertional or cardiopulmonary symptoms occurred in 137 athletes (4.0%) upon resuming exercise. Most (58%) had shortness of breath, followed by chest pain (36%), unusual fatigue (23%), palpitations (7%) and syncope (passing out) or near-syncope (4%). As you may surmise from the percentages totaling over 100%, many of the athletes had more than one of the symptoms.
Of the 24 athletes who complained of chest pain and underwent comprehensive cardiac testing, five were found to have some form of heart damage. There were no such findings in athletes who did not have chest pain.
Consequently, the authors of the study insist a comprehensive heart evaluation, including consideration of cardiac MRI, is necessary in the rare athlete who develops chest pain after resuming exercise. However, they also warn against discounting other heart-related symptoms in the absence of chest pain.
Rodgers’ COVID-19 claims
Up until earlier this month, if Aaron Rodgers had said the earth is flat, ESPN types and Rodgers’ promotional partners would have applauded.
In the summer, when Rodgers played word games and said he had been “immunized” after being asked if he had been “vaccinated” against COVID-19, nobody challenged him.
The Green Bay quarterback’s credibility took a severe hit, though, when he was recently diagnosed with COVID-19 and the NFL placed him in its post-infection protocol for unvaccinated players. Furthermore, the league has since fined the Packers and Rodgers for repeatedly failing to follow its mandates for unvaccinated players prior to Rodgers being afflicted.
Since the revelation, a Wisconsin health care system has ended its promotional relationship with Rodgers. State Farm has not dropped him as a spokesman but the frequency of commercials featuring Rodgers has dropped dramatically. Media members, meanwhile, have been asking more questions. Yet, they oddly continue to accept Rodgers at his word.
He now acknowledges not being vaccinated, blaming an allergy to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. As for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, he declined that option because of possible side effects.
Taking the last claim first, there have been side effects from the Johnson and Johnson vaccine but those dangers and their frequency pale in comparison to those associated with becoming infected.
I asked Dr. Dylan Slotar, an infectious disease specialist at Community Hospital in Munster about the likelihood of an allergy to the other two vaccines.
“It is a very rare circumstance to have an allergy to a component of the vaccines,” he said. “You might know it from previous exposure to a medication containing polyethylene glycol (a chemical in the Moderna and Pfizer formulations). Someone could have had an anaphylactic reaction to one of those medications but it is highly unlikely, on the order of one in a million. They would (then) have to go through a formal evaluation by an allergist to know for sure.”
Has Rodgers had such an evaluation? The NFL and Packer mouthpieces, who claim to be journalists, aren’t asking.
In September, Stanford University researchers published a study in JAMA Open Network of allergic reactions to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which are m-RNA-based. They looked at the first 39,000 doses given to healthcare workers employed by the school. Only 22 recipients, 20 of them women, had possible allergic reactions. Further investigation determined 17 were true allergic reactions. Three were severe enough to warrant administration of epinephrine. In every case, the recipient completely recovered.
Follow-up allergy testing was then performed on 11 of the employees which determined their reactions were caused by polyethylene glycol, not m-RNA. Furthermore, the recipients’ allergies were not severe enough to cause a potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction. They could therefore safely receive a medically supervised second injection.
According to a press release from Stanford that accompanied the publication of the study, polyethylene glycol is a stabilizer found not only in some medications but also in household cleaners and cosmetics. Consequently, “women (are) more likely to be exposed to large quantities of the substance (and) repeated exposures to a substance can sometimes sensitize the immune system and provoke allergies.”
Rodgers very well may have an allergy to polyethylene glycol but he does not fit the profile and until he is more forthcoming, his claim is dubious at best.
Football recap: Region teams punch semistate tickets, have historic seasons end on snowy night
Friday night was packed with entertainment, including a double-overtime finish, program record, multi-TD performances and more as snow fell. Get caught up with The Times' complete coverage!
The Wolves (9-3) snapped a seven-game losing streak in the series, won their seventh straight game and earned the right to host Zionsville (8-5) in next week's semistate.
Valparaiso and Michigan City clash for a Final Four berth.
“I really don’t focus on these records, which is crazy. It’s an honor, especially breaking my coach’s record. He’s a great guy.”
Merrillville entertains Penn for a Class 6A semistate berth.
“The work ethic and the striving to be excellent, it’s contagious. It doesn’t matter if it's boys sports or girls sports."
LaVille visits Andrean with a Class 2A semistate berth on the line.
"But this team is called the brotherhood for a reason — because we step up for each other and this was the best season."
Hanover Central and Mishawaka Marian vie for a final four berth.
“New Prairie is just one heck of a team. They punch you in the face and run down your throat just like we do. We expected it."
Get updated scores as teams put up points among five matchups involving teams from Northwest Indiana.
John Doherty is a certified athletic trainer and licensed physical therapist. This column reflects solely his opinion. Reach him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JDohertyATCPT.