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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

COVID-19 could lead to cardiac problems in kids, doctors say

Blank Children's Hospital's Dr. Amy Shriver says about 10% of school-aged kids are testing positive for COVID-19 now, up 4% from at the start of the pandemic.

Two years ago, Allie was diagnosed with a low heart rate.  Despite that, her volleyball career pressed on.

Fast-foward to fall 2020.  Now 15, Allie played eight games of her high school volleyball season, not knowing she also had COVID-19.

Allie felt no symptoms; at least none that anyone would have expected.

Because of her low heart rate, the virus had a different effect than usual.  Instead of the common symptoms like shortness-of-breath, coughing and fever, Allie experienced heaviness in her chest, faintness and shoulder pain, according to her mother.

"Looking back over the past month, you'd never know Allie had COVID," Allie's mother Jodi said.

Dr. Amy Shriver at Blank Children's Hospital says this isn't the first time covid and cardiac problems have gone hand-in-hand.

"We're finding that children can have cardiac problems after covid, and that returning to sports might be a risk for a small portion of those children," Shriver said.

According to Shriver, about 6% of school-aged kids tested positive for the virus.  Now, it's up to 10%, which Shriver says goes beyond sports.

"I think the reason the numbers went up is because kids went to school," Shriver said.

Shriver says most kids won't develop severe symptoms at all, but some can develop cardiac consequences. Therefore, it's best to not return to sports right away, even after the body has finished fighting the virus off.

If your student-athlete has had COVID-19 and is experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain or dizziness, they should wait until their physician clears them to go back to sports, according to Shriver.