UPDATE: Dr. Sebastianelli has issued a clarification about the story below, and apologized for any confusion he may have caused with his statements.
Regarding the claim that 30-35% of Big Ten athletes have been discovered to have heart conditions linked to Covid-19: It was incorrect.
Here is some clarification from Penn State.
"Dr. Sebastianelli wishes to clarify this point, and apologize for any confusion." pic.twitter.com/ATUc2FxDrU
— Kyle Bonagura (@BonaguraESPN) September 3, 2020
As the Big Ten decides whether or not to backtrack on cancelling the fall football season and instead get it rolling on October 10th, Penn State’s football doctor shared some very concerning data about the number of Big Ten athletes who tested positive for COVID-19 that also ended up suffering serious heart issues as a result.
During a State College Area school board of directors earlier this week, Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, Penn State’s director of athletic medicine, stated that approximately a third of cardiac MRI scans of Big Ten athletes who tested positive for COVID-19 also appeared to have myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle which can be fatal if not treated, reports Penn State University publication Centre Daily Times.
The Mayo Clinic states myocarditis “can affect your heart muscle and your heart’s electrical system, reducing your heart’s ability to pump and causing rapid or abnormal heart rhythms.”
“When we looked at our COVID-positive athletes, whether they were symptomatic or not, 30 to roughly 35 percent of their heart muscles (are) inflamed,” said Sebastianelli. “And we really just don’t know what to do with it right now. It’s still very early in the infection. Some of that has led to the Pac-12 and the Big Ten’s decision to sort of put a hiatus on what’s happening.”
Numbers that high are reasonable cause for concern, especially with how grueling playing college football can be, regardless of the conditioning of the athlete.
“You could have a very high-level athlete who’s got a very superior VO2 max and cardiac output who gets infected with COVID and can drop his or her VO2 max and cardiac output just by 10 percent, and that could make them go from elite status to average status,” Sebastianelli said. “We don’t know that. We don’t know how long that’s going to last. What we have seen is when people have been studied with cardiac MRI scans — symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID infections — is a level of inflammation in cardiac muscle that just is alarming.”
Sebastianelli added, “Needless to say we all have concerns for the health and safety of every PSU student athlete, as well as those at every level of competition; this is a public health issue.”
Despite this and similar news the SEC, Big 12 and ACC are still planning on playing games this fall, but, hey college football isn’t about the money, right, Coach Saban? It’s “about the players.”