AUSTIN (KXAN) — A recent study shows people may develop a lingering heart problem after recovery from COVID-19 — news that’s especially troubling for athletes.

The study looked at 100 people diagnosed with the coronavirus and found 80% of the group developed a serious heart problem that lingers for months after you recover from the virus.

Dr. W. Chance Conner, an Austin cardiothoracic surgeon, said he was very surprised to learn about the effect COVID-19 had on the heart. One of those effects is myocarditis.

“It’s an inflammation of the heart muscle essentially caused by the virus. And the worry with that is that as you’re recovering from that, if you participate in strenuous physical activity, you may be susceptible to cardiac events — namely arrhythmias or abnormal electrical events, and those typically can lead to sudden death, and that’s why there is a real concern,” Dr. Conner said.

As high school football gears up for larger area school districts, he said extra attention should be given to players who’ve had COVID-19.

“I think they should; I think any athlete that has been diagnosed with COVID should at least be screened,” Dr. Conner said.

While recovery from myocarditis is likely, Dr. Conner said there are still some uncertainties.

“Most patients will recover with time, so it’s not a death sentence to have this diagnosis. We just don’t know what the timeline is, and frankly, we don’t know what percentage of patients won’t recover and go on to have chronic long-term problems,” Dr. Conner said.

He said some athletes who have recovered from COVID-19 should see a doctor to get screened for heart abnormalities and a lab test that looks for a protein the heart produces when inflamed or injured.