Lingering coronavirus symptoms in college athletes is rare, study finds – Santa Cruz Sentinel


College athletes who get coronavirus are very unlikely to have persistent symptoms, a new study out of Massachusetts General Hospital found, but researchers say any new chest pain athletes feel upon returning to exercise must be taken seriously.

“Collegiate athletes are probably one of the healthiest segments of the population, and when they get sick it’s less severe,” said Dr. Aaron Baggish, director of the MGH Cardiovascular Performance Program and a co-author of the study.

The research published earlier this month took a look at 3,597 male and female National Collegiate Athletic Association athletes across 44 different colleges and universities who got coronavirus. They represented 26 different sports disciplines.

Researchers found that just 1.2% of the athletes had persistent symptoms that lasted more than three weeks such as loss of smell or taste, shortness of breath, or cough or chest pain.

By comparison, about half of the general population that gets coronavirus has lasting symptoms for upwards of six months, but that figure includes people of all ages with varying degrees of health.

In addition, the amount of athletes who returned to exercise and had concerning symptoms like chest pain was very low, at about 4%, but Baggish said it’s crucial for athletes to report those symptoms to a medical professional.

He said chest pain following COVID infection could be a symptom of inflammation of the heart called myocarditis, and pushing through that can have dangerous outcomes, as the best way to treat it is with rest and time.

Of the athletes in the study who had chest pain, 20% of them had probable or definite cardiac issues from coronavirus.

Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez developed myocarditis after getting infected with coronavirus last year and was out for the season, as previously reported in the Herald, but he recovered.

Rodriguez is one of many Boston athletes to have caught coronavirus, though myocarditis is rare. Celtics star Jayson Tatum struggled with respiratory symptoms after coronavirus infection and needed to use an inhaler.

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