Myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, is a rare disease that can cause heart failure. Every year, it causes the deaths of about 75 young athletes between the ages of 13 and 25, usually without warning, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Typically, myocarditis is caused by a viral infection, and it has been seen in patients who have recovered from COVID-19, sparking concern for student-athletes. But a new study from The Ohio State University could help determine when athletes infected by the coronavirus can safely return to action, despite fears of myocarditis.

Protocols for determining whether an athlete who had COVID-19 also has myocarditis include a clinical examination, an ultrasound, an electrocardiogram, and a blood test. The Ohio State study showed cardiac magnetic resonance imaging can also spot the inflammation when it’s not caught by the other methods. CMR imaging shows detailed images of the heart, the Dispatch reports, and can help doctors study the heart’s muscle structure to find tissue damage or the cause of heart failure.

Dr. Curt Daniels, a co-author of the study, said CMR imaging was able to differentiate between the patients who had evidence of myocarditis and those who did not “with the highest sensitivity” of the available diagnostic tools.

The study was small — researchers examined 26 male and female athletes who tested positive for COVID-19 (four were shown to have possible myocardial inflammation) — but Daniels said having that extra diagnostic method should “provide increased safety” that could set young athletes who contracted the virus on a path “to get back to playing” with fewer worries. Read more at The Columbus Dispatch.

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Coronavirus, Heart, Cardiology, Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, Myocarditis, The Ohio State University

World news – GB – Cardiac MRI can identify coronavirus-linked heart inflammation, Ohio State study reveals

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