Sep 15, 2020
Study: Cardiac MRI Can Identify Myocarditis

A new study from Ohio State University shows that a cardiac MRI can identify myocarditis — inflammation of the heart muscle that is a residual symptom from COVID-19 — in athletes.

According to an article from The Columbus Dispatch, the university said the test could help determine when athletes who’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 can safely return to athletics.

Photo: Sandra Foyt / Creative Commons

Twenty-six male and female college athletes who tested positive for COVID-19 from the Midwest were examined by researches from Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center for signs of myocarditis — which can cause heart failure and sudden cardiac death but is a relatively rare disease.

Current protocols recommend a clinical examination, an ultrasound, an electrocardiogram, and a blood test in searching to identify myocarditis in athletes, according to The Columbus Dispatch. In their study, OSU researchers followed all of the aforementioned protocols and added cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging. That was found to be successful, The Columbus Dispatch said, in spotting myocardial inflammation that was not picked up by other methods.

CMR imaging shows detailed images of the heart. It can help doctors study the heart muscle’s structure and find the cause of a patient’s heart failure or spot tissue damage. Using CMR imaging, 15% of athletes in the study were shown to possibly have myocarditis, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Eight other athletes had scar tissue which could either be prior myocardial injury or normal athletic adaptation of the heart.

“We were able to differentiate those who had evidence of myocardial inflammation — and therefore myocarditis — from those who did not, and the MRI became the tool that did that with the highest sensitivity,” Dr. Curt Daniels, co-author of the study, a cardiologist and professor at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, told The Dispatch.

Though 75 deaths occur per year in young athletes (aged 13 to 25), according to the Myocarditis Foundation, but has been seen in patients and athletes diagnosed with COVID-19. Perhaps most notably, Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez opted out of the 2020 MLB season after developing myocarditis following testing positive for COVID-19.

» ALSO SEE: ATs Urge Compliance to COVID-19 Preparedness, Study Says

“Anytime you feel as though you can provide increased safety, you feel more comfortable with participating,” Daniels told The Dispatch. “Combining those two things would appear at least where we are today. We may be talking something different six months from now, but where we are today in the current environment and current data, these would be two tools to potentially provide a safe environment to get back to playing.”

To read the full story from The Columbus Dispatch on the Ohio State study, click here

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