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What’s next for Alphonso Davies after being diagnosed with heart disease

Soccer star Alphonso Davies will not be available for Canada’s next round of World Cup qualifiers later this month after being diagnosed with inflammation of the heart muscle, following a recent episode of COVID-19.

Bayern Munich manager Julian Nagelsmann announced at a pre-match press conference in Germany on Friday that team doctors had found signs of mild myocarditis during a follow-up examination on Thursday, after that Davies had tested positive for the coronavirus on January 4.

“The myocarditis isn’t too dramatic based on ultrasound, but more just signs of inflammation,” Nagelsmann said. “Nevertheless, he needs time to heal and that will no doubt take time.”

Davies’ agent Nick Househ told TSN’s Rick Westhead that the 21-year-old national team player – fully vaccinated after receiving his recall in December – is feeling fine but will be sidelined for at least less than four weeks. He will undergo weekly MRIs and Bayern team doctors will monitor his progress.

Davies will miss three matches as Canada attempt to qualify for the men’s World Cup for the first time since 1986: in Honduras on January 27, in Hamilton against the United States on January 29 and in El Salvador on February 2.

Here’s a look at what he’s dealing with off the pitch.

Q How common is myocarditis related to COVID-19?

A This is a very rare complication of COVID, says Dr. Diego Delgado, a cardiologist at the University Health Network’s Peter Munk Cardiac Center. The majority of patients, he adds, recover without long-term effects. “Permanent heart damage is very, very rare and is usually seen in patients with underlying heart conditions.”

Q What are the symptoms?

A Common symptoms are chest pain, shortness of breath and palpitations, Delgado says, adding that the majority of patients experience minor symptoms.

Q How is it diagnosed?

A There is no single test. Doctors look at a combination of physical exams, blood tests, electrocardiograms, echocardiograms, and heart MRIs. Cardiac MRI is probably the most important, Delgado says.

Q Does the COVID-19 vaccine help?

A This can minimize the severity in the rare event that a vaccinated person is diagnosed with myocarditis, the doctor says. Data released last week revealed that the rate of myocarditis after vaccination was two per 100,000 doses.

Q How is myocarditis treated?

A For mild cases, with rest, good hydration and sometimes anti-inflammatory drugs. More serious cases require antiviral treatment and/or corticosteroids.

Q How long does it take to recover?

A Typically two to four weeks, Delgado says.

Q What should a doctor see before allowing an athlete to return?

A Normal cardiac MRI and blood test results.

Q What are the risks of returning too soon?

A More severe inflammation of the heart muscle, which can cause an irregular heartbeat. Says Delgado: “It’s so important that once a patient is diagnosed with this disease, they need to be monitored very closely by a specialist.”

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