Months after recovering from covid-19, some college athletes show signs of heart inflammation caused by a rare condition called myocarditis which may be linked to exposure to covid-19, doctors in JAMA Cardiology.
Researchers at Ohio State University mapped the hearts of 26 male and female student athletes who tested positive for covid-19 using a process called cardiac magnetic resonance. They found evidence of myocarditis in 15 percent of the athletes, while 30 percent had cell damage or swelling that couldn’t be definitely linked to the disease, The scientist reported.
The 26 students contracted the virus between June and August 2020. The time between their diagnosis and the myocarditis test ranged from 11 days to almost two months. Twelve of the athletes reported mild symptoms and the rest were asymptomatic.
“Myocarditis is an important cause of sudden cardiac death in competitive athletes,” the authors wrote in the study.
The disease causes 75 deaths each year in athletes between the ages of 13 and 25, according to a Myocarditis Foundation report. It affects 22 people per 100,000 each year, but is a recognized cause of death in professional athletes, even in the absence of previous heart conditions, The Scientist reported.
Among NCAA athletes who died of sudden cardiac arrest, 10% suffered from myocarditis, 2015 study finds study.
“Recent studies have raised concerns about inflammation of the myocardium after recovery from the coronavirus, even in asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic patients,” the study authors wrote.
Myocarditis is usually caused by a viral infection with symptoms ranging from chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, to a negative impact on heart rate and rhythm such as arrhythmias, according to the Mayo Clinic.
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“Heart disease like myocarditis is associated with some cases of # COVID-19[FEMALE[FEMININE. Serious heart damage is rare but has occurred, even in young, healthy people, ”the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tweeted on September 17.
This tweet resulted in an accusation against the CDC of sowing fear. “It’s more fear! Myocarditis has long been associated with viral infections, this is nothing new for COVID-19… Google! a Twitter user said.
Medical experts have warned of links between coronavirus and heart damage, especially in young people, Fox News reported. Respiratory disease, covid-19 most commonly affects the lungs, but damage to the lungs can lead to serious heart complications, National Institute of Heart, Lung and Blood at the National Institutes of Health said.
Damaged lungs can prevent oxygen from reaching the heart and other tissues.
Myocarditis has been found in at least five Big Ten Conference athletes and among players from other conferences, ESPN reported in August. At least 12 Power 5 schools have identified athletes with post-covid-19 myocardial injury, including asymptomatic patients. “We initially thought that if you didn’t have significant symptoms, you were probably at less risk,” Matthew Martinez, director of sports cardiology for Atlantic Health System, told ESPN. “We are now seeing that this may not be true.”