Study: Few heart problems for pro athletes after COVID-19

Mar 6, 2020; North Port, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez (57) throws a pitch during the second inning against the Atlanta Braves at a spring training game at CoolToday Park. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Few pro athletes have suffered heart problems resulting from COVID-19, according to a study published Thursday in medical journal JAMA Cardiology.

The study incorporated data from six pro leagues — NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, WNBA and MLS — and found that less than 1 percent of pro athletes developed cardiac problems.

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That was based on a review of the 789 athletes who tested positive for COVID-19 between May 2020 and October 2020, with five suffering heart problems — 0.63 percent.

“We did this because, at the beginning of [the pandemic], it was clear that people who were hospitalized with COVID did have a significant [incidence] of heart disease,” Gary Green, medical director for MLB and one of the study’s authors, told The Washington Post. “And we wanted to make sure athletes who got COVID were returning to their sport and were doing it in a safe manner. … We wanted to see: is it safe for [athletes] to return, and what’s the risk? What we found is that the risk is very, very low.”

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Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez is one who did have a heart issue. He was diagnosed with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, after contracting COVID-19 and missed the 2020 season.

He told reporters about his battle with the condition when he reported to training camp last month, and he said it wasn’t easy.

“At the beginning of COVID, I just wanted a chance to get past through that,” Rodriguez, 27, said. “Thank God I have a chance to survive that part and be available to get back to baseball and get cleared.”

It took three months of rest before he was ready to begin conditioning and he cautioned others to follow health and safety guidelines.

“I was feeling really bad back in those days. Really, really bad,” he said. “This is not something that we can play around with.”

–Field Level Media