Implications of SARS-CoV-2-Associated Myocarditis in the Medical Evaluation of Athletes

Neha P. Raukar, Leslie T. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Context: Myocarditis is a known cause of death in athletes. As we consider clearance of athletes to participate in sports during the COVID-19 pandemic, we offer a brief review of the myocardial effects of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) through the lens of what is known about myocarditis and exercise. All athletes should be queried about any recent illness suspicious for COVID-19 prior to sports participation. Evidence Acquisition: The PubMed database was evaluated through 2020, with the following keywords: myocarditis, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, cardiac, and athletes. Selected articles identified through the primary search, along with position statements from around the world, and the relevant references from those articles, were reviewed for pertinent clinical information regarding the identification, evaluation, risk stratification, and management of myocarditis in patients, including athletes, with and without SARS-CoV-2. Study Design: Systematic review. Level of Evidence: Level 3. Results: Since myocarditis can present with a variety of symptoms, and can be asymptomatic, the sports medicine physician needs to have a heightened awareness of athletes who may have had COVID-19 and be at risk for myocarditis and should have a low threshold to obtain further cardiovascular testing. Symptomatic athletes with SARS-CoV-2 may require cardiac evaluation including an electrocardiogram and possibly an echocardiogram. Athletes with cardiomyopathy may benefit from cardiac magnetic resonance imaging in the recovery phase and, rarely, endocardial biopsy. Conclusion: Myocarditis is a known cause of sudden cardiac death in athletes. The currently reported rates of cardiac involvement of COVID-19 makes myocarditis a risk, and physicians who clear athletes for participation in sport as well as sideline personnel should be versed with the diagnosis, management, and clearance of athletes with suspected myocarditis. Given the potentially increased risk of arrhythmias, sideline personnel should practice their emergency action plans and be comfortable using an automated external defibrillator.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-148
Number of pages4
JournalSports Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • clearance
  • myocarditis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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