GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A rare condition that causes inflammation of the heart muscle and which could be linked to COVID-19 has been a central concern for Power 5 conference leaders deliberating a return to college sports in the fall, according to ESPN.
The condition known as myocarditis has been discovered in at least five athletes in the Big Ten Conference along with "several other" college athletes in other conferences, ESPN reported while citing two sources familiar with the athlete's medical care.
The condition, if left undiagnosed, can cause heart damage and cardiac arrest.
Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart and it has been found in some COVID-19 patients.
There is concern it could be a long-term complication of contracting the virus even in young, healthy people, a group that has usually avoided severe cardiovascular symptoms, Dr. Ed Kornoelje a sports medicine specialist with Metro Health University of Michigan Health myocarditis is not a new condition but is being brought to light again because of the inflammation that COVID 19 can cause in the body and especially the heart, "What we're finding with COVID athletes is that because it is such an inflammatory disease is that you can get an inflammation of the heart and if someone doesn't know they have that can lead them to have heart damage and lead to problems down the road. We wonder if some of the younger people who have died over the years of sudden cardiac death maybe they did have some myocarditis maybe they were not aware of so the problems is not new it's just coming to light again with all the COVID discussion and it's good that it is."
ESPN and Sports Illustrated reported that long-term effects of myocarditis have been discussed frequently on recent calls among conference commissioners and athletic directors.
One Power 5 team doctor told Sports Illustrated that the heart condition has been discussed on "every call.”
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
While most COVID-19 related myocarditis cases in athletes have remained private, Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodríguez will miss the entire 2020 MLB season because of heart inflammation caused by COVID-19.
As college officials debate over the fate of fall sports, college football players across the country have been participating in a social media push in an attempt to save their season and ensure they will no longer be left out of the sport's biggest decisions.
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