Why Visit a Sports Cardiologist?

Inova sports cardiologists are trained to recognize normal versus abnormal cardiovascular changes or responses to specific exercises that point to underlying disease. We offer:

  • Advanced testing and evaluation to assess how your heart is affected by physiologic change during exercise
  • Individualized care plans and exercise prescriptions that align your cardiovascular health with your sport-specific goals

Who Can Benefit?

  • Athletes (high school, collegiate, professional)
  • Master athletes
  • Individuals participating in community athletics or competitive events
  • Individuals who want to increase their level of physical activity significantly
  • Patients with heart disease who wish to return to high levels of activity after recovery
  • Athletes or individuals with known or familial heart conditions

Our Services:

  • Prescreening for exercise participation
  • Cardiopulmonary exercise testing
  • Return to play evaluation
  • Risk assessment for sudden death
  • Evaluation of potential cardiac symptoms
  • Development of care plan for fitness or competition goals
  • Performance training and enhancement

Schedule an Appointment

Providing Sports Cardiology Support

If you belong to an institution or organization seeking help with medical planning, our team of experts can assist you. Our support services are useful for:

  • Universities and colleges
  • Youth or adult league sports
  • Community race organizations

Please email us at sportscardiology@inova.org to learn more.

COVID-19 Return to Exercise Guidelines for Athletes

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, athletes and physicians were concerned that infection with the SARS-2-CoV virus could result in myocarditis (inflammation of the heart), so all significant sports leagues required athletes to obtain cardiac testing before returning to practices or competitions.

Fortunately, the rate of myocarditis during and after COVID-19 infections is much lower than initially feared In addition, the risk of developing it can be reliably predicted based on the severity of the illness during infection. In response to this emerging data, the American College of Cardiology has adopted guidelines on who requires cardiac screening and testing after a SARS-2-CoV infection:

  Follow Latest CDC-Self-Isolation Recommendation? Cardiac Testing Required Before Returning to Exercise? Training Guidelines
Asymptomatic infection Yes No Abstain from any exercise for three days after a positive test and resume training after self-isolation. Slowly ramp up training.*
Mild symptoms with infection: Runny nose, chest congestion, cough, sinus congestion, headache Yes No Resume training after self-isolation and after symptoms of infection are gone completely. Slowly ramp up training.*
Cardiovascular symptoms or hospitalization with infection: Chest pain, chest pressure, shortness of breath (dyspnea), palpitations, or passing out (syncope). Yes Yes See a sports cardiologist for appropriate cardiac testing before returning to exercise.

*Symptoms during exercise: Even in mild or asymptomatic cases, athletes often notice a racing heart rate or excessive shortness of breath when returning to training after a COVID infection. If you experience any of these symptoms, see a sports cardiologist.

The American College of Cardiology (ACC) published a detailed report in May 2022 to provide guidelines for clinicians regarding the common questions surrounding myocarditis, post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), and return-to-play (RTP).

Our Location

Michael Flanagan, MD

Medical Director

Dr. Michael Flanagan is the Medical Director of Inova Sports Cardiology. He oversees the Sports Cardiology Program and leads a multidisciplinary team of specialists, including:

  • Pediatric Cardiologists
  • Advanced Practice Providers
  • Exercise Physiologists
  • Registered Dietitians
  • Registered Nurses
  • Respiratory Therapists