By Laura Kemp • 21 January 2022 • 15:07
It’s no surprise that there are debates around Covid vaccines and cardiovascular health, with high profile cases such as footballers and children collapsing – but is there a link between the vaccine and the heart?
One of the most common points of conflict concerning the vaccine is the risk of myocarditis – an inflammation of the heart muscle most commonly caused by a virus such as influenza, coxsackie, hepatitis or herpes – particularly in young people.
According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF): “The risk of getting myocarditis or pericarditis after the vaccine is very low. In the UK, even in the highest-risk age group (18-29), the incidence is a small 29 cases per million doses of the vaccine (based on data up to 15 December 2021).”
“In other age groups the risk is even lower.”
Cases of heart inflammation (myocarditis or pericarditis) after having the vaccine are very rare, and slightly less rare in children and young adults up to the age of 39.
In the UK up to December 15, 2021, there were 39 reported cases of heart inflammation in 12-17-year-olds after the vaccine – this is just 18 cases per million doses of Pfizer.
In 18-29-year-olds, the rate was 9 per million doses, while in 30-39-year-olds the rate was 22 per million doses.
The Independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has confirmed that the Pfizer vaccine is safe for children aged 12-25 and vulnerable children from age 5.
There have been no figures published for cardiac arrests in those under 18-years-of-age, meaning the number is either too small to be published or there have been none at all to report.
The BHF said: “It’s also worth noting that Covid-19 is more likely to cause myocarditis than the vaccine is, and people who are vaccinated have a much lower risk of getting other serious complications caused by Covid-19.”
A large study published in the BMJ of 4 million people in Denmark who received the vaccination found no fatalities or heart failure in those who were diagnosed with myocarditis or pericarditis after being vaccinated.
Based on a study from Israel, the risk of myocarditis following the vaccination is 2.13 cases per 100,000 vaccinated – which is within the normal range of the general population. This study is also consistent with others in the US which show the overall incidence of myocarditis after the vaccine is between 0.3 and five cases per 100,000 people.
Following the recent number of cardiac arrests in footballers, it’s no surprise that the public is linking this to the vaccine. However, the BHF says that it cannot be sure this is related to the vaccine and Inter Milan have since confirmed that footballer Christian Eriksen, who suffered cardiac arrest on-field during Euro 2020, had not even been vaccinated at the time of his collapse.
In fact, research shows that having Covid previously is much more likely to lead to heart problems than the vaccine.
Some people have reported a faster heartbeat in the days following their Covid jab, with the BHF advising that this can be part of a normal immune response to receiving the vaccine and is not usually something to be concerned about.
There is proof, however, that catching the virus can significantly increase the risks of cardiac arrest and death.
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Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features.
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