UF basketball player diagnosed with rare heart disease after court collapse

Author: Zach Oliveri/ WINK News
Published: Updated:
FILE – In this Nov. 29, 2019, file photo, Florida forward Keyontae Johnson (11) looks on during during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Marshall in Gainesville, Fla. Johnson, the Southeastern Conference’s preseason player of the year, collapsed coming out of a timeout against rival Florida State and needed emergency medical attention Saturday, Dec. 1`2, 2020. He was taken off the floor on a stretcher and rushed to Tallahassee Memorial for evaluation. The Gators had no immediate update on his condition. (AP Photo/Matt Stamey, File)

An elite athlete in Florida was diagnosed with a rare heart disease after collapsing during a UF basketball game.

Keyontae Johnson, 21, contracted the coronavirus in August and then passed all physical tests to play college ball.

When Johnson collapsed on the court, the sports world held its breath. The Gainesville Sun reported doctors diagnosed Johnson with myocarditis.

We spoke to doctors about whether Johnson’s condition is something those who lead active lifestyles should be concerned about.

“The heart itself becomes inflamed,” said Robert Hawkes, the director of the FGCU physician assistant program. “It’s harder to work, and sometimes it becomes so infected and inflamed it doesn’t pump well, and sometimes people can pass out, and certainly they don’t function as well.”

Hawkes told us this condition is not new.

But concerns for COVID-19 led to the Big Ten conference’s decision to delay its football season.

Johnson’s collapse restarted the conversation.

“If it has something to do with COVID, I would say every coach in the country would like to know,” John Calipari said.

So would every athlete from the pros to the colleges to the weekend warriors.

Johnson passed a complete cardiac evaluation after recovering from COVID-19.

The American College of Cardiology urges doctors to perform similar heart screenings on anyone who recovered from the virus and wants to exercise.

Johnson is home from the hospital but probably won’t play basketball again this season.

“I want to thank you for all the prayers you gave to me,” Johnson said. “Go Gators.”

Warning signs of myocarditis

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Fatigue or dizziness
  • Body aches
  • Joint pain
  • Swelling in extremities

The symptoms mentioned might not be experienced all at once, and it’s possible to feel these symptoms and not have myocarditis. Anyone with concerns should contact a doctor.

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