Very Low Risk of Heart Issues After COVID-19 Vaccination

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The risk of heart inflammation following COVID-19 vaccination is extremely low, according to a large, peer-reviewed study published in Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

“The findings of the Lancet study are encouraging,” says Imran Rashid, MD, a cardiologist at University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute. “The study showed that heart inflammation in people receiving COVID-19 vaccines was comparable to people who received non-COVID-19 vaccinations, like the flu vaccine.”

Understanding Heart Inflammation

The researchers studied three closely related types of heart inflammation:

  • Myocarditis: inflammation of the heart muscle (myocardium)
  • Pericarditis: inflammation of the thin, saclike tissue lining the heart (pericardium)
  • Myopericarditis: inflammation of the heart muscle and the heart lining

In both myocarditis and pericarditis, the body’s immune system causes inflammation in reaction to a trigger, including viral infections. The most common symptoms of myocarditis and pericarditis include chest pain, shortness of breath, and a fluttering or pounding heart.

COVID-19 Vaccine Still the Smart Choice

The researchers tracked approximately 395 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, including about 300 million mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, and nearly 10 million doses of non-COVID-19 vaccines. For every one million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, they found only 18 cases of heart inflammation. In comparison, for every one million doses of non-COVID-19 vaccines, they found 56 cases of heart inflammation – still a statistically low number.

“The study shows that COVID-19 infection is associated with a higher risk of developing heart inflammation than COVID-19 vaccination, a finding that is supported by other studies,” says Dr. Rashid.

The study found that young men, specifically those under 30, had a slightly higher risk of developing heart inflammation after COVID-19 vaccination than other groups, particularly after the second dose. This corroborates findings in earlier studies.

“We know that male adolescents and young men are at slightly higher risk than other groups for developing myopericarditis,” says Dr. Rashid. “However, it’s important to note that the majority of these very rare cases of heart inflammation after COVID-19 vaccination are mild or moderate and demonstrate complete recovery.”

Dr. Rashid says that getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is still the smarter choice than not getting vaccinated at all.

 “Over 10 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered globally and the vaccine has proven to be safe and effective. Getting vaccinated reduces your risk of contracting COVID-19 or developing severe symptoms and associated complications, which can lead to hospitalizations or deaths in the most severe cases.”

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