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Panminerva Medica 2022 December;64(4):497-505

DOI: 10.23736/S0031-0808.21.04340-8


language: English

Cardiovascular effects of COVID-19 lockdown in professional football players

Elena CAVARRETTA 1, 2 , Ilaria D’ANGELI 3, Maura GIAMMARINARO 3, Salvatore GERVASI 3, 4, Maurizio FANCHINI 5, Andrea CAUSARANO 5, Vincenzo COSTA 5, Massimo MANARA 5, Noemi TERRIBILI 3, Luigi SCIARRA 6, Leonardo CALÒ 6, Chiara FOSSATI 3, 7, Mariangela PERUZZI 1, 2, Francesco VERSACI 8, Roberto CARNEVALE 1, 2, Giuseppe BIONDI-ZOCCAI 2, Giacomo FRATI 1, 9

1 Department of Medical-Surgical Sciences and Biotechnologies, Sapienza University, Latina, Italy; 2 Mediterranea Cardiocentro, Naples, Italy; 3 Villa Stuart Sport Clinic, FIFA Medical Center of Excellence, Rome, Italy; 4 Sports Medicine Unit, IRCCS A. Gemelli University Polyclinic Foundation, Rome, Italy; 5 AS Roma Football Club, Rome, Italy; 6 Division of Cardiology, Policlinico Casilino, Rome, Italy; 7 Department of Movement, Human and Health Sciences, Foro Italico University, Rome, Italy; 8 Division of Cardiology, Santa Maria Goretti Hospital, Latina, Italy; 9 IRCCS Neuromed, Pozzilli, Isernia, Italy

BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic with the stay-at-home orders and lockdown has dramatically forced athletes to stop team training and competitions, causing deep changes in habits and lifestyle. Aim of this study was to evaluate in a retrospective single center study the cardiovascular (CV) health and fitness of elite football player after COVID-19 lockdown in Italy and to compare such findings with the 2019 off-season period, in order to identify potential differences in the CV features and outcomes.
METHODS: All 29 professional football players of the first male team were enrolled before resuming training and competition after COVID-19 lockdown and underwent several exams including physical examination, resting and stress electrocardiography (ECG), echocardiography, spirometry and blood tests.
RESULTS: Median age was 27 years (23; 31), with no athlete being COVID-19 positive at the time of the evaluation. In comparison with the usual off-season 2-month detraining, significant differences were found for left ventricular (LV) mass (189 g [172; 212] vs. 181 g [167; 206], P=0.024) and LV Mass Index for body surface area (94 g/m2 [85; 104] vs. 88 g/m2 [79.5; 101.5], P=0.017), while LV mass/fat free mass remained unchanged (2.8 g/kg [2.6; 2.9] vs. 2.9 g/kg [2.6; 3.2], P=0.222). Respiratory function and metabolic profile were improved, while no significant changes were found in ECG findings, at rest and during exercise.
CONCLUSIONS: Prolonged abstinence from training and competitions induced by lockdown elicited significant changes in comparison with off-season in parameters ascribable to detraining, as the changes in LV mass, in respiratory function and in metabolic profile.

KEY WORDS: Athletes; Cardiovascular system; COVID-19; Quarantine

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