Cardiac MRI shows myocarditis less common in athletes recovered from COVID-19 than previously thought

  • March 11, 2021

Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers compared 59 student-athletes who had the novel virus to a near equal amount of healthy controls.  It is well known that COVID-19 may affect the heart; however, this recent finding brings much-needed positive news, the group explained in a letter published by the journal Circulation.  “The degree of myocarditis found by cardiac MRI in Vanderbilt athletes was only 3%, which is really good news,” first author Dan Clark, MD, MPH, an Instructor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the university, said in a statement.  “Since our first evaluation, we have screened almost double that number and the same findings are holding true.”

Results of the COVID-19 Myocardial Pathology Evaluation in AthleTEs with Cardiac Magnetic Resonance (CMR) study, or COMPETE CMR, did, however, reveal more scarring in healthy heart muscle than researchers would have hypothesized.

They also reported similarly “disappointing” news, Clark noted.  Other screening tests such as blood work, clinical exams, EKG, echocardiograms and additional tests did not help identify athletes with myocarditis and no COVID-19 symptoms.  Clark et al. had hoped to only use CMR in special situations.  “Initially, we hoped that the standard screening tests for athletes would be definitive because we wanted something that was widely available and quick,” he explained.  “All of those traditional screening results would have led us to agree to allow some athletes to participate in a sporting event or practice, while the MRI told a different story,” Clark added.

The team believes that using cardiac MRI to assess athletes may help determine if they are ready to get back out onto the field.

REFERENCE:  HealthImaging; 08 JAN 2021; Matt O’Connor

Leave a Comment