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COVID19 Associated Myocarditis in College Athletes

A new article published in JAMA Cardiology evaluated college athletes for myocarditis after they tested positive for COVID19. The study included twenty-six male and female student athletes who participated in football, soccer, lacrosse, basketball and track at Ohio State University who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 during this past summer. They underwent cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) 11 to 53 days after completion of quarantine. Four males showed tissue damage consistent with myocarditis.

The investigators also looked for more subtle findings of cardiac injury by measuring the gadolinium uptake time into cardiac muscle. Eight of the 26 athletes (31 percent) had late gadolinium enhancement, suggestive of prior myocardial injury. The authors plan to continue following these athletes for several more months.

Despite its small size, this study raises concerns. It adds more evidence to a prior German study, also published in JAMA Cardiology, that suggested subtle cardiac consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection may be common in adults.

Although myocarditis often resolves on its own over time, severe cases can lead to heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms, and even sudden death in competitive athletes with normal heart function.


Cardiovascular magnetic resonance findings in competitive athletes recovering from COVID-19 infection. Rajpal S, Tong MS, Borchers J, et al. JAMA Cardiol. 2020 September 11. [Published online ahead of print.]

Outcomes of cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging in patients recently recovered from Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Puntmann VO, Carej ML, Wieters I. JAMA Cardiol. 2020 Jul 27:e203557. [Published online ahead of print.]

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