Despite Alarmist Warnings, Few Pro Athletes Suffer Covid-Related Cardiac Issues

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Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Few of the nearly 800 pro athletes who tested positive for the coronavirus were found with any serious heart problems despite claims that the virus was deadly for the heart.

A study of 789 professional athletes from the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, MLS, and the WNBA who tested positive for the virus, and who also underwent cardiac screening, found only a few with heart problems.

The study found that only 30 of the 789 were referred for additional testing. But of that 30, only five were diagnosed with inflammatory heart disease, the other 25 had no issues at all. USA Today reported “three with myocarditis and two with pericarditis.”

“What it showed us is that the prevalence of heart-related injury related to COVID-19 is low. That’s very reassuring,” said one of the study’s authors Dr. Matthew Martinez, the director of Atlantic Health System Sports Cardiology at Morristown Medical Center.

The study was conducted by 16 doctors, ten of which were associated with pro sports. They also found that only those who had strong symptoms of the virus were at any risk of developing a heart problem.

“If you have no symptoms or just antibodies, we know that the value of identifying that group (cardiac injury) is virtually zero,” Martinez added. “With mild symptoms, we’re not finding a lot of cardiovascular complications. That’s the majority of folks we’re seeing with COVID in this group. If you’re young and otherwise healthy and an athlete and you’re asymptomatic or mild, what you need is rest for a couple of weeks, any additional tests, return to exercise, and if you have no symptoms, off you go.”

“But if you’re in the moderate risk group where you have systemic illness and persistent fevers, chest pressure, increased heart rate, breathlessness or require a hospitalization, that’s the group we really need to image to make sure that there’s no complication related to COVID. That’s going to be a small number,” the Dr. concluded.

Martinez is also part of a similar study for college athletes and said that he did not expect different results than those seen in the study of pro athletes.

The results run contrary to blaring headlines claiming that the coronavirus is set to cause a “surge” in heart conditions as the virus spread. That was the claim in a recent Time magazine article with a headline warning, “COVID-19 May Lead to a Heart-Disease Surge.”

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