Newswise — The AMSSM Collaborative Research Network (CRN) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2020 AMSSM CRN $300K Research Grant. Drs. Jonathan Drezner, Kimberly Harmon and Aaron Baggish will serve as co-principal investigators for their research project titled "Outcomes Registry for Cardiac Conditions in Athletes (the ORCCA Study): a Prospective, Multisite Research Study."

The long-term objective of their project is to establish an outcomes registry for competitive athletes diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. Initially, the investigators will launch a national registry using a cohort of NCAA athletes afflicted with COVID-19 to address urgent clinical questions related to the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on cardiovascular pathology and the risk of myocardial injury. Specifically, the group will examine the diagnostic yield of pre-participation cardiac testing and the prevalence of myocarditis or adverse cardiovascular events among NCAA athletes with COVID-19 infections. They will then expand the focus of this registry to capture the clinical implications and outcomes of traditional (i.e. non-COVID-related genetic and congenital) forms of cardiovascular pathology.

"We are honored to receive this research grant to establish a national outcomes registry for athletes with cardiac conditions," Dr. Drezner said. "We hope to develop an evidence base that will inform management decisions and safe exercise recommendations for young athletes with cardiovascular pathology."

The study team consists of AMSSM clinicians and researchers at various locations, including the University of Washington-Seattle (Drs. Drezner and Harmon) and Harvard University (Dr. Baggish). Approximately 70 NCAA universities with Division I athletic programs and historically black colleges and universities associated with the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (CIAA) have agreed to participate in the registry. Numerous AMSSM member team physicians at these institutions will help form the network to contribute data for this registry.

According to Dr. Harmon, "The response from team physicians and athletic trainers in support of this project has been nothing short of amazing. This project truly demonstrates the generosity and the collegiality among peers that AMSSM helps to foster."    

Concerns for myocarditis have prompted widespread modifications to pre-participation cardiovascular screening in athletes afflicted with COVID-19, including the addition of specific testing designed to increase detection of myocarditis such as echocardiography, cardiac biomarkers, and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging. While several expert consensus guidelines for the cardiac evaluation of athletes after COVID-19 infection have been developed, limited data is available to guide an evidence-based screening strategy. This registry will seek to provide critical evidence to inform decisions about the health and safety of competitive athletes during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Dr. Drezner added, "The extent to which mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 infections affect the heart is unknown. This study will provide important data to guide clinical investigations and a safe return to sports during the COVID-19 pandemic."  

The team of investigators will work closely with the CRN Leadership Committee on this project over the next two years and beyond. The CRN looks forward to partnering with these investigators to share results with the membership as they become available.

"The CRN is excited to support this talented group of researchers in the quest for answers to short and long-term questions around cardiac complications and exercise," said Dr. Anthony Beutler, Chair of the CRN. "The prominence of this registry highlights the world-wide leadership role of AMSSM in sport and the outstanding work that AMSSM members perform daily to improve the health of athletes everywhere."

This $300,000 grant award is being equally funded by AMSSM and the AMSSM Foundation as part of a $1 million-plus, five-year plan to support competitive CRN research awards.

About the AMSSM: AMSSM is a multi-disciplinary organization of sports medicine physicians dedicated to education, research, advocacy and the care of athletes of all ages. The majority of AMSSM members are primary care physicians with fellowship training and added qualification in sports medicine who then combine their practice of sports medicine with their primary specialty. AMSSM includes members who specialize solely in non-surgical sports medicine and serve as team physicians at the youth level, NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA, WNBA, MLS and NHL, as well as with Olympic and Paralympic teams. By nature of their training and experience, sports medicine physicians are ideally suited to provide comprehensive medical care for athletes, sports teams or active individuals who are simply looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle.