One of the main reasons the Big Ten decided to shutter its fall football season was the reports of a heart condition called myocarditis appearing in a swath of college athletes throughout the country.
But the numbers shared by the Penn State director of athletic medicine are especially concerning. On Thursday, Wayne Sebastianelli stated that cardiac MRI scans have revealed myocarditis in 30- to 35-percent of Big Ten athletes who tested positive for COVID-19.
“When we looked at our COVID-positive athletes, whether they were symptomatic or not, 30 to roughly 35 percent of their heart muscles (are) inflamed,” Sebastianelli said, per the Centre Daily Times. “And we really just don’t know what to do with it right now. It’s still very early in the infection. Some of that has led to the Pac-12 and the Big Ten’s decision to sort of put a hiatus on what’s happening.”
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle. It can reduce the heart’s ability to pump and causing rapid or abnormal heart rhythms.
BREAKING: #PennState's director of athletic medicine, Wayne Sebastianelli, says that cardiac MRI scans revealed that roughly 30-35 percent of Big Ten athletes who tested positive for COVID-19 appeared to have myocarditis. https://t.co/md4p1IoaLh
— Parth Upadhyaya (@pupadhyaya_) September 3, 2020
Sebastianelli called the correlation between athletes with COVID-19 getting myocarditis “alarming.”
“What we have seen is when people have been studied with cardiac MRI scans — symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID infections — is a level of inflammation in cardiac muscle that just is alarming.”
Needless to say, such a condition could prove especially dangerous for athletes competing in high-stress, heavy-workload sports.
The full effects of the coronavirus remain a subject of significant study. Long term effects of surviving a bout with the virus may not be known for years.
But it’s certainly better to be safe than sorry where the health of athletes is concerned.
Should the Big Ten move forward with trying to play football in the fall?