BOSTON (CBS)- Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez is the first athlete we have seen be shut down for the season due to medical concerns stemming from COVID-19. While other athletes have opted out in order to protect their families from the possibility of catching the virus, Rodriguez had coronavirus, recovered, and then saw medical complications in the form of myocarditis.
While Rodriguez is expected to make a full recovery, the news of an athlete developing a heart condition due to COVID-19 was unsettling for many. Still, Columbia University cardiologist Dr. Jennifer Haythe points out that these types of complications have been seen before even in patients that get the flu.
“We know that for the most part the people who get very sick from COVID are older people. Obviously, that doesn’t mean that younger people can’t get very sick from COVID as we’re seeing and I saw with my own eyes. But, it’s less common and the flu can do the same thing,” said Dr. Haythe in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “I’ve seen young people need heart transplants from getting the flu. It’s not something we’ve never seen before. The stories are obviously frightening but I think we need to keep in perspective that in general, younger people without a lot of co-morbidities do okay and it’s generally our older relatives and family that we need to keep protected.”
Though Dr. Haythe agrees with the general consensus that the virus has been shown to affect older people more severely than the young, she advises against young people dismissing the disease simply because they may not develop serious symptoms. The reason for that is, like we saw with the 27-year-old Rodriguez, the virus causes inflammation in cells in the body that can affect major organs.
“The thing with the heart is I think that as we’re learning more about COVID, we’re realizing that this is a virus that really affects the endothelium which is the cells that line blood vessels. That is having an effect on the brain, the lungs, the heart, the kidneys, the skin,” said Dr. Haythe. “All of these manifestations of this virus are in so many different parts of the body. So, this example of this baseball player, who I’m not treating, he may have had very few symptoms but it may have actually had an impact on these cells in his heart and caused this problem. That’s not to say he’ll be impaired forever but remember, this is a virus we’ve only known for what, seven months now? We need more information.”
Rodriguez’s case, and other’s like it, are a reminder of just how little we know of the effects that follow having COVID-19. Dr. Haythe says that she’s not recommending her patients stayed locked inside for the next two years but that people should use “common sense and caution” when trying to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.