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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, so do concerns about the effects of the virus on the athlete’s heart.

 That is why, for cardiologists such as NBPA cardiologist Dr. Matthew Martinez, implementing protocols, evaluating data, adjusting approaches, and ensuring athlete safety is more important now than ever before.

 In the Sports Illustrated article titled “NBPA Cardiologist Opens Up About League’s COVID-19 Concerns” written by Michael Pina, Dr. Martinez discusses the latest information cardiologists have about COVID-19 and cardiac health. In particular, he addresses the information included in a paper he co-wrote and is submitting to JAMA.


The key takeaways from this interview are as follows:

  • Myocardial involvement among COVID-19 positive athletes is similar to that of other viruses, particularly among mild and asymptomatic cases.

  • The COVID-19 protocol has not changed yet in light of the new data described in the paper, in part because Dr. Martinez and other cardiologists want to gather more information over a longer period of time before changing cardiac testing protocols.

  • Current testing, which includes an electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, and blood test, look for myocarditis, myocardial injury, clots, thrombosis, and lung damage related to COVID-19.

  • A proven protocol and direct access to cardiologists should keep NBA players safe even as the pandemic continues.

  • The collapse of previously COVID-19 positive Keyontae Johnson, even after undergoing the current cardiac protocol, is not necessarily cause for concern and does not necessarily reflect myocardial damage caused by COVID-19. It simply highlights the fact that no protocol will ever be perfect.

  • Continuing to implement the proven protocols for covid-positive players is currently the best way to ensure their cardiac health and safety even as experts continue to gather and evaluate data on the virus’ cardiac impact on elite athletes.


Conclusion to Article:

What Dr. Martinez, and cardiologists like him, are finding, is that COVID-19 has less of an effect on the heart than previously recognized, but that ongoing evaluation and faithful implementation of established protocols is necessary to both further understand this disease’s impact on the heart and to ensure the safety of athletes who have tested positive for the virus.

 As one of the leaders in athletic cardiac evaluations, Athletic Heart is leading the way to this process. Our athlete database now includes analysis of COVID-positive athletes’ cardiac health, and our convenient, affordable, on-site imaging is helping to ensure the health of athletes across the country.

 As we partner with athletic organizations such as MLS, the Atlanta Braves, and the University of Florida, we are making advancements, providing reliable data and gaining educated insights that make a difference for athletes during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.