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We’ve also known for a while that some COVID-19 patients’ hearts are taking a beating, too—but over the past few weeks, the evidence has strengthened that cardiac damage can happen even among people who have never displayed symptoms of coronavirus infection. And these frightening findings help explain why college and professional sports leagues are proceeding with special caution as they make decisions about whether or not to play.

From an offensive lineman at Indiana University dealing with possible heart issues to a University of Houston player opting out of the season because of “complications with my heart,” the news has been coming fast and furiously. More than a dozen athletes at Power Five conference schools have been identified as having myocardial injury following coronavirus infection, according to ESPN; two of the conferences—the Big Ten and the Pac-12—already have announced they are postponing all competitive sports until 2021. And in Major League Baseball, Boston Red Sox ace pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez told reporters that he felt “100 years old” as a result of his bout with COVID, and of MLB’s shortened season because of myocarditis—an inflammation of the heart muscle, often triggered by a virus. Said Rodriguez: “That’s [the heart is] the most important part of your body, so when you hear that … I was kind of scared a little. Now that I know what it is, it’s still scary.”

Why are these athletes (and their leagues and conferences) taking such extreme precautions? It’s because of the stakes. Though it often resolves without incident, myocarditis can lead to severe complications such as abnormal heart rhythms, chronic heart failure and even sudden death. Just a few weeks ago, a former Florida State basketball player, Michael Ojo, died of suspected heart complications just after recovering from a bout of COVID-19 in Serbia, where he was playing pro ball....

.....One non–peer reviewed study, involving 139 health care workers who developed coronavirus infection and recovered, found that about 10 weeks after their initial symptoms, 37 percent of them were diagnosed with myocarditis or myopericarditis—and fewer than half of those had showed symptoms at the time of their scans....

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