Kudos to the sports cardiology community
In an accompanying editorial, James E. Udelson, MD, Ethan J. Rowin, MD, and Barry J. Maron, MD, from the CardioVascular Center at Tufts Medical Center, Boston, applauded the sports cardiology community for its diligence in acquiring and publishing data about the post–COVID-19 prevalence of cardiac abnormalities in competitive athletes.
“It is a real tribute to the sports cardiology community. There has been an amazing growth of information, and they not only gathered this information, they analyzed and published it, starting out with a study of 29 or 30 athletes, and now thousands,” Dr. Udelson said in an interview.
At the start of the pandemic, it appeared that 15%-20% of athletes had myocarditis, and athletic conferences were discussing canceling sports events.
However, with greater numbers comes a more accurate picture of the extent of the problem.
“Once you get thousands of subjects in these studies, you can hone in on what the real number is, so now we understand that if you screen everybody with a cardiac MRI, 1%, 2%, or 3% will have some evidence of what looks like myocarditis,” he said.
Dr. Udelson agreed that doing cardiac imaging in everyone is not feasible.
“This study looked at a very large number of people who all had an MRI, but that doesn’t mean everyone should have them. If you just do an echo, an EKG, and a troponin test, and if everything is normal, which is kind of what current recommendations are, this paper tells us that we are going to miss one or two people out of a hundred, and that might be okay,” he said. “So, if you are at a huge university that has a large medical center and you want to screen all your athletes with MRI, great. But if you’re at a high school in a remote area, you know that the alternative, not having an MRI, isn’t so bad, either.”
A version of this article first appeared on Medscape.com.