Virus-linked heart ailment detected in at least 5 student-athletes driving Power 5 COVID-19 concerns

At least five student-athletes in the Big Ten Conference have been diagnosed with a heart condition potentially linked to the novel coronavirus, prompting concern among Power 5 conference leadership evaluating the viability of college sports this fall, ESPN reported.

“Several other athletes in other conferences” have also been diagnosed with the rare condition, known as myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, the sports news network reported.

According to the National Institutes of Health, myocarditis is typically caused by a viral infection, including H1N1 influenza, mononucleosis or even the common cold. Left untreated, the condition can cause irreparable heart damage and even sudden cardiac arrest, resulting in death.

Although the condition is rare, myocarditis has been linked with a higher frequency to COVID-19 than other viruses, ESPN reported.

According to Bleacher Report, Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez is sitting out the 2020 MLB season after follow-up testing from a positive COVID-19 test revealed he, too, suffers from myocarditis.

In turn, “meetings of presidents and chancellors, commissioners and athletics directors, and health advisory board members from the Big Ten, Pac-12 and other conferences around the country” have focused on the uncertainty surrounding long-term effects of myocarditis on student-athletes, ESPN reported.

“We are collectively, as a sports nation, not quite ready to feel entirely comfortable with what that may look like for our young people down the line, and we are not going to put them in that situation,” Dr. John MacKnight, the head primary care team physician at the University of Virginia, told the sports news network.

The concerns prompted the Mid-American Conference to postpone all fall sports last week after receiving medical reports about myocarditis and other problems associated with the novel coronavirus.

According to sports commentator Dan Patrick, the Big Ten and Pac-12 officials are planning to announce a cancellation of fall sports on Tuesday, with more Power 5 conferences to follow, Bleacher Report reported.

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