How COVID-19 Affects Sports Medicine


A look into the long-term implications of the virus on athletes' cardiovascular fitness.

A recent research letter from investigators at The Ohio State University showed cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) assessment of 26 collegiate athletes positive with coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) indicated 4 (15%) had myocarditis, and another 8 (or 31%) had late gadolinium enhancement.

Though the findings were immediately concerning implicative of the risks in rushing back to the resumption of collegiate and professional sports, there is further to be found in what even the most cardiovascular-fit athletes face from COVID-19 infection.

In a continued interview with Contagion®, research letter author Saurabh Rajpal, MBBS, MD, cardiovascular physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, discussed plans to study COVID-19 positive college athletes long-term for continued symptoms and MRI results.

Prior research into myocarditis-affected patients shows there is a small risk of progression—regardless of the cause or patient.

“Most inflammation in the heart in most people is going to resolve,” Rajpal said. However, in a small minority, it can progress to more severe cardiovascular disease.”

Rajpal also shared perspective on the return of sports in North America, and what the role of cardiologists like himself and involved sports medicine clinicians have been.

“Our focus has been the safe participation of athletes who come to our clinic, and that’s what we’ve tried to assure by doing what we find the most appropriate in the safe return to sports,” he said.

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