Myocarditis: The Lasting Impact of COVID-19 Impacting Young Athletes

People say COVID-19 does not impact the young as severly.

But for some athletes, the lingering impact of myocarditis. An ailment of the heart that in mild cases, can force athletes to be sidelined from all training and competition for 3-6 months.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle (myocardium). Myocarditis can affect your heart muscle and your heart’s electrical system, reducing your heart’s ability to pump and causing rapid or abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias).”

The issue came to light after MLB pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez suffered from myocarditis as a result of COVID-19 infection. The 27-year-old falls in the two highest risk groups for myocarditis – The young – puberty until early 30s, and men.

Recently, NCAA basketball star Keyontae Johnson collapsed on the court while playing for Florida due to acute myocarditis. The cause of his condition? A previous bout of COVID-19.

In the past, science already recognized myocarditis as a risk for sudden death in young athletes, now, the risk is increased as more people are being diagnosed with the heart ailment following and during recovery from COVID-19.

In a frightening study done of NCAA athletes in the Big 10, 30-35% of athletes who had previously tested positive for COVID-19 now suffered from inflamed heart muscles caused by myocarditis.

That number is staggering compared to the 0.0001% prevalence in a normal population.

These rates of myocarditis in athletes who have had COVID-19, was constant whether they were symptomatic or asymptomatic with the virus.

Myocarditis does not allow the heart to pump properly, and in athletics, where the heart needs to work harder, myocarditis can cause sudden death during exercise.

So while many parents, coaches, and athletes are throwing caution to the wind due to the misconception that youth and physical health will prevail over COVID-19, the lasting impacts on an athletes cardiovascular system could sideline them for months, and threaten their life if they return.

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