Study reveals less than 1 percent of COVID-positive college athletes suffered heart concerns
One of the reasons to consider postponing or calling off college football last season was because of the possibility that heart-related issues could be found in athletes. Myocarditis, or heart inflammation, was one of the chief reasons to consider a pause or outright cancellation of the season, and there were cases found in athletes.
However, a study published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation, found that signs of possible, probable or definite myocarditis, or heart inflammation, in 21 of 3,018 athletes (0.7%) who had tested positive for COVID-19. It also showed that athletes with heart issues were more likely to have had moderate COVID-19 and/or cardiopulmonary symptoms, per ESPN.
Dr. Jonathan Drezner, director of the University of Washington Medicine Center for Sports Cardiology and a co-principal investigator of the study, said the results will help colleges and the NCAA refine cardiac-screening protocols for athletes who have tested positive for COVID-19.
“The bigger message is for the athletes who only have mild symptoms or no symptoms, it’s not clear you need to do any testing at all,” he said. “And I would be comfortable simply doing a good review of symptoms and making sure when they get back to play, they feel well.”
Researchers also determined that COVID-19 did not cause any athletes in the study to suffer a heart attack or related event; although one athlete did suffer cardiac arrest, it was determined likely not to be coronavirus-related, Drezner said.
“If you look around the nation, there’s 8 million high school athletes with maybe an infection rate of 10 percent. College probably an infection rate of 20 percent. And we’re just not hearing about these adverse events,” Drezner said. “That’s also indirectly sort of reassuring.”