Myocarditis Risk in COVID-Infected College Athletes

A discussion with an Ohio State investigator on early CMR findings among young athletes.

The current understanding of cardiovascular events due to coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)—even in the youngest, healthiest patients—is troubling. But what’s even more troubling are the potential long-term effects.

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

Though coronavirus-related myocardial injury in competitive athletes and those participating in sport activities remains unclear, the team concluded CMR imaging has the potential to at least identify high-risk patients and risk-stratify athletes for safe participation, seeing as CMR mapping techniques have a high negative predictive value to rule out myocarditis.

In an interview with Contagion®, Saurabh Rajpal, MBBS, MD, cardiovascular physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, discussed his team’s findings, the current understanding of athletes’ risk in COVID-19 infection, and what long-term research may be critical for the field.

“We have seen this in other viral infections, so I don’t think this is unique to COVID-19,” Rajpal explained. “However, I would say that COVID-19 has been pretty well studied, so we see a lot of these findings, whereas the other viral infections are not as well researched.”