HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - This week, the Boston Red Sox sidelined pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez's throwing program after he suffered complications from contracting COVID-19. His complication: myocarditis.
"Myocarditis is an inflammatory process that occurs in the muscle of the heart. It can weaken the heart muscles," said Dr. Deepak Talreja, director of cardiovascular sciences at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital.
Talreja says he is seeing this heart condition presenting in patients with coronavirus here in Hampton Roads.
"After the virus, patients can develop myocarditis-related problems because the heart muscles are weakened and cannot pump as much blood as the body would like. It presents similarly to a heart attack," he said.
Talreja says a viral infection like COVID-19 can cause the inflammation. Signs and symptoms include chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath and arrhythmia.
"COVID-19 increases the risk of blood clots in legs and lungs, and increases the risk of stroke or heart attack," he explained.
Although COVID-19 is considered a respiratory disease, it has been linked to myocarditis frequently enough across the United States and overseas to merit a further scientific study.
"Many leaders in the field will say yes, we will see an increase in late issues, both pulmonary and heart attacks," Talreja said.
An EKG, or ultrasound of the heart, can identify the condition. Supportive care and medications can help reduce inflammation and encourage blood flow.