Sports, heart and coronavirus
Heart problems are common in people hospitalized for COVID-19. However, how often the heart muscle is affected by this infection in athletes and in people treated at home is poorly understood.
Earlier, before the advent of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, it was known that athletes who participate in competitive sports can die from myocarditis caused by a previous respiratory viral infection. Concerns about such myocarditis have contributed to the cancellation of many sports events and recommendations to assess the health of athletes’ hearts after COVID-19
The results of the studies showed a huge variation in the prevalence of heart muscle damage in athletes with coronavirus infection: from 1.4% to 56% (1, 2, 3, 4). Such differences are due, inter alia, to the use of different diagnostic criteria for this pathology. The study, which used the strictest criteria, found myocarditis in 0.6% of professional athletes who had coronavirus infection.
With a mild infection, the risk of heart damage is very low
In the new study, researchers analyzed data on college students involved in sports that were collected from 42 US colleges from September to December 2020.
During the observation period, COVID-19 was diagnosed in more than 3 thousand of the 19 thousand athletes included in the study. Doctors assessed the condition of the heart of each of them after the infection. To diagnose disorders of the heart muscle, electrocardiography, determination of biomarkers in the blood, ecocardiography, and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (cMRI) were used.
In total, cardiac pathology or its signs were found in 0.4-1.5% of athletes. Abnormalities were found much more frequently when study participants underwent cMRI for symptoms rather than routine screening. On average, cardiac lesions were about 3 times more common in people with cardiopulmonary symptoms compared to asymptomatic people.
“Most athletes without symptoms or with mild symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection can safely return to sports without additional heart testing if they feel well enough to do so and if they do not have cardiopulmonary symptoms such as chest pain. cell, ”said Jonathan A. Drezner, director of the University of Washington Sports Cardiology Medical Center and co-author of the study.