Conference Finds Athletes Have an Issue After Recovery

About one-third who had COVID-19 show heart inflammation
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 3, 2020 6:45 PM CDT
Conference Finds Athletes Have an Issue After Recovery
Ohio State players celebrate their victory over Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship football game last December.   (AP Photo/AJ Mast, File)

A new revelation suggests the Big Ten made the right call in canceling its fall sports, but it could worry athletes in general. About one-third of the conference's athletes who had COVID-19 are now showing signs of inflammation of the heart muscle, CNN reports. Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, Penn State's director of athletic medicine, isn't sure what the findings—that 30% to 35% of the athletes were affected—mean for long-term health. "We really just don't know what to do with it right now," Sebastianelli said. It's possible that top athletes could become just average, for example. "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," he said.

The Big Ten cited the uncertain long-term effects on its athletes' health when calling off the fall seasons, per Bleacher Report. People in the age group of college athletes are less at risk of dying of COVID-19 but can still be left with health problems after recovering. Eduardo Rodriguez of the Boston Red Sox is missing the season because of myocarditis, as the inflamation is called. The problem surfaced after Rodriguez contracted the coronavirus. The conference has been under pressure to restore its fall schedules, especially the one for football. "I've been calling for football to be back, including Big Ten," President Trump said at a rally Friday. "Big Ten, get with it. Open up your season, Big Ten." (Pac-12 football was called off at the same time.)

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