Coronavirus Chronicles — COVID-19 Not As Ageist As Believed

Ohio State study: 30% of student athletes have heart damage linked to COVID-19” is a news story title which, due to editorial sloppiness or whatever, is inaccurate. As it turns out, 30% of athletes do not have COVID-19-related heart damage. The study concerned only Ohio State University athletes who tested positive. There were 26 of them, about one-third of whom had cellular heart damage, and another 15% “showed signs of heart inflammation caused by a condition known as myocarditis.”

Those findings, without exaggeration, are bad enough to cause alarm. Young people do catch the virus, and some suffer permanent damage, and we’re not just talking about an increased risk of becoming obese. Myocarditis is a sudden-death type of thing, even for the young and super-fit. Heart damage is no joke, and it seems to be a trend. Researchers decided to take a close look at these kids because:

Recent studies have raised concerns of myocardial inflammation after recovery from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), even in asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic patients.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Severe cardiac damage is rare but has occurred, even in young, healthy people.”

We have mentioned that there is still debate over the basic nature of the disease — is it respiratory, or circulatory? Turns out, when it comes to this type of damage, that mystery is secondary. If the heart is attacked directly, or suffers from lack of oxygen because the lungs were attacked, either way it’s a big problem for the heart.

This applies to little kids, also — like the case described by journalist Austin Williams — of a two-month-old baby with a COVID-19 diagnosis who “experienced a myocardial injury as well as a type of heart failure most commonly seen in adults.” This child, fortunately, seems to have recovered normal heart function.

Counting not inclusive

In October, Robert Roy Britt, who specializes in writing about the virus, summarized the current thinking of hundreds of infectious disease experts from many parts of the world, and boiled it down into “10 Signs the Pandemic Is About to Get Much Worse.” Most obviously, a tremendous number of people are already infected. Another serious problem is that the number of reported cases may not be anywhere near the actual number of cases, since many infected individuals never realize they have it.

A lot of people would show up positive if they were tested, but in very many places, getting a test is not that easy — and then there is the whole mess of complications about false negatives results, and so on. At any rate, when cases are reported, the only officially recognized ones are those verified by testing.

The bottom line

People who have not been tested, and/or do not have symptoms, can still infect others; and for reasons not yet understood, some of the people who never get sick themselves have the mysterious power to be “superspreaders.”

And, since around Memorial Day, “Young people are being infected at unprecedented rates.” Sure, the virus started out by most noticeably picking off the elderly and feeble. But it’s not going anywhere and has plenty of time to harvest any and every age group. It goes after obese people, including kids, more zealously than it does healthy-weight people. It takes healthy-weight people — including kids — and weakens and immobilizes them, creating excellent conditions for the accumulation of fat. With regard to age, the virus does not discriminate. It will take anybody.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Ohio State study: 30% of student athletes have heart damage linked to COVID-19,” Fox6Now, 12/30/10
Source: “10 Signs the Pandemic Is About to Get Much Worse,”, 10/19/20
Image by Quinn Dombrowski/CC BY-SA 2.0

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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