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Prevalence and diagnostic significance of de-novo 12-lead ECG changes after COVID-19 infection in elite soccer players

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Paul Catterson, Dr Antoinette Kenny


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© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2023. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.Background and aim: The efficacy of pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 infection 12-lead ECGs for identifying athletes with myopericarditis has never been reported. We aimed to assess the prevalence and significance of de-novo ECG changes following COVID-19 infection. Methods: In this multicentre observational study, between March 2020 and May 2022, we evaluated consecutive athletes with COVID-19 infection. Athletes exhibiting de-novo ECG changes underwent cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) scans. One club mandated CMR scans for all players (n=30) following COVID-19 infection, despite the absence of cardiac symptoms or de-novo ECG changes. Results: 511 soccer players (median age 21 years, IQR 18-26 years) were included. 17 (3%) athletes demonstrated de-novo ECG changes, which included reduction in T-wave amplitude in the inferior and lateral leads (n=5), inferior leads (n=4) and lateral leads (n=4); inferior T-wave inversion (n=7); and ST-segment depression (n=2). 15 (88%) athletes with de-novo ECG changes revealed evidence of inflammatory cardiac sequelae. All 30 athletes who underwent a mandatory CMR scan had normal findings. Athletes revealing de-novo ECG changes had a higher prevalence of cardiac symptoms (71% vs 12%, p<0.0001) and longer median symptom duration (5 days, IQR 3-10) compared with athletes without de-novo ECG changes (2 days, IQR 1-3, p<0.001). Among athletes without cardiac symptoms, the additional yield of de-novo ECG changes to detect cardiac inflammation was 20%. Conclusions: 3% of athletes demonstrated de-novo ECG changes post COVID-19 infection, of which 88% were diagnosed with cardiac inflammation. Most affected athletes exhibited cardiac symptoms; however, de-novo ECG changes contributed to a diagnosis of cardiac inflammation in 20% of athletes without cardiac symptoms.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bhatia RT, Malhotra A, MacLachlan H, Gati S, Marwaha S, Chatrath N, Fyyaz S, Aleixo H, Al-Turaihi S, Babu A, Basu J, Catterson P, Cooper R, Daems JJN, Dhutia H, Ferrari F, Van Hattum JC, Iqbal Z, Kasiakogias A, Kenny A, Khanbhai T, Khoury S, Miles C, Oxborough D, Quazi K, Rakhit D, Sharma A, Varnava A, Tome Esteban MT, Finocchiaro G, Stein R, Jorstad HT, Papadakis M, Sharma S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Heart

Year: 2023

Volume: 109

Pages: 936-943

Print publication date: 26/05/2023

Online publication date: 27/03/2023

Acceptance date: 21/02/2023

ISSN (print): 1355-6037

ISSN (electronic): 1468-201X

Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1136/heartjnl-2022-322211

PubMed id: 37039240


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