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Bills' Tommy Sweeney develops heart condition from COVID-19, what a cardiologist says it is

A cardiologist from Rochester Regional Health says you can't prevent myocarditis, but you can prevent COVID-19.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Bills tight end Tommy Sweeney is out for the rest of the season because of a heart condition he developed as a side effect of COVID-19.

It's called myocarditis.

What exactly is it though and how can you tell if you have it?

Myocarditis is the inflammation and injury of your heart, typically caused by a virus. 

A doctor 2 On Your Side spoke to at Rochester Regional Health says it's not exactly common to see in someone like Sweeney though.

"It's fare game to anyone but more likely than not, it is less likely to occur in someone like Mr. Sweeney," said Dr. Vishal Parikh, a heart failure cardiologist at Rochester Regional Health. 

Parikh says myocarditis is more likely to occur in someone who has a pre-existing lung or heart condition, or someone older who has diabetes or high blood pressure. That also includes someone who has a severe or moderately severe infection from COVID-19.

Doctors say it can affect people differently too. Some can be asymptomatic, while others have to be placed on a heart-lung machine. 

"We just don't have the data to determine yet what are the long-term effects of coronavirus and myocarditis and it's not there yet in terms of emerging science for that," Parikh said. 

On Monday, Bills head coach Sean McDermott said he has seen Sweeney who was in "good spirits."

It's not the first time we're hearing about an athlete developing the heart condition though as a result of COVID-19. 

Several athletes, including Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, also developed the condition.

Unfortunately, doctors say you can't prevent getting myocarditis but you can prevent yourself from getting coronavirus. 

"So masking up, washing your hands, social distancing to prevent COVID-19 is going to be your best bet to decrease the risk of getting myocarditis. If you develop COVID-19, nothing can decrease your risk of developing myocarditis," Parikh said. 

Parikh says doctors have also seen instances where coronavirus has caused clogged arteries in the heart which can result in heart attacks.