COVID-19: cardiac abnormalities detected in recovering college athletes

  • JAMA Cardiol

  • de Emily Willingham, PhD
  • Clinical Essentials
El acceso al contenido completo es sólo para profesionales sanitarios registrados. El acceso al contenido completo es sólo para profesionales sanitarios registrados.


  • Among competitive athletes, 15% have cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) findings suggestive of myocarditis after they recover from COVID-19.
  • Another 30.8% have evidence of previous myocardial injury.

Why this matters

  • Competitive athletes with myocarditis are at risk for sudden cardiac death.
  • These authors note that the current expert consensus for athletes recovering from COVID-19 advises cardiac testing only in those with lingering symptoms after 2 weeks.
  • These and other similar findings, they say, call this recommendation into question.

Key results

  • The participants were 26 athletes playing competitive college sports, 15 of them male.
  • None were hospitalized or treated with any antivirals specific to COVID-19.
  • 26.9% reported mild symptoms, and the others were asymptomatic.
  • Most parameters were normal on ECG and CMR.
  • None of them had increased troponin I.
  • 4 of the male athletes, however, had CMR findings suggesting myocarditis (edema per increased T2 signal; signs of myocardial injury).
  • 2 of these 4 also had mild related symptoms.
  • 12 others had late gadolinium enhancement in an average of 2 segments, and 8 of these had this without increased T2 signal, suggesting that they had experienced previous myocardial injury.

Study design

  • Participants were athletes at The Ohio State University who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 during June-August 2020.
  • Funding: None disclosed.


  • No baseline imaging, and imaging timing varied.
  • Athletic adaptation is an alternative explanation for some abnormalities.