Cardiovascular complications are among the highest risk factors when it comes to COVID-19 hospitalizations and there is no doubt that the heart has been playing an important role ever since the pandemic started!
More precisely, it turns out that a significant number of COVID-19 patients show signs of heart damage and many of them are left with long-lasting cardiovascular injuries even after recovering from the infection.
Furthermore, debates over the available vaccines also tend to focus on problems that involve cardiovascular health.
The sudden collapse of Danish soccer player Christian Eriksen back in June, actually sparked a myth that there is a certain link between unexpected cardiac arrest and the jab amongst athletes that is still believed months later!
The most common point of discussion when it comes to this topic is the risk of myocarditis after getting vaccinated, especially among the younger age groups.
But what is myocarditis?
Myocarditis is the inflammation of one’s heart muscle which is most often caused by a virus such as influenza, hepatitis, coxsackie, or herpes.
There are also other causes such as fungi, bacteria, toxins, autoimmune conditions and chemotherapy.
Some viruses manage to infect the heart muscle and directly injure the heart while others damage it indirectly, via the immune system.
This is because when the immune system gets activated as a response to an infection, the release of chemicals known as cytokines in the body is triggered, in an attempt to clear up the infection.
However, in some situations, the levels of cytokines rise to really high levels, causing a “cytokine storm” that can really damage one’s heart muscle in the end.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic starting, myocarditis happened with an incidence of between 1 and 10 cases per 100,000 people every year.
The highest rates are amongst men between the age of 18 and 30 and interestingly enough, mostly healthy and active people are affected.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the risk of developing myocarditis after testing positive for the COVID virus is a lot higher than the usual with 146 cases per 100,000.
In this case, men are still at a higher risk, older adults aged over 50 and kids under the age of 16 following close behind.
In spite of all the myths and speculations, the risk of myocarditis after getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is, in fact, much smaller than the risk of heart injury when infected with the virus.
More precisely, a study conducted in Israel shows that the risk of vaccine myocarditis is 2.13 cases per 100,000 vaccinated which is actually right within the usual range for the entire population even without the pandemic contributing to it.
The research is consistent with others in the same country as well as in the US, which classified the incidence of myocarditis after the vaccine as between 0.3 and 5 cases per 100,000 people.
Most studies out there prove that there is a real benefit of vaccination when it comes to myocarditis.
As for the treatment available, it actually depends on the severity.
Most adults that experience mild forms of myocarditis need to just rest and also take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.
The more severe cases, on the other hand, need serious medication and sometimes even mechanical circulatory supports such as left ventricular assist devices in order to help with their heart function.
In the most serious and rare cases, a heart transplant may even be needed to save the patient’s life.
More than 80 percent of myocarditis cases that are not related to either COVID infections or COVID vaccinations heal by themselves spontaneously and only 5 percent either pass away or need a heart transplant to happen within a year after the diagnosis.
As it seems, those who get myocarditis from a COVID-19 infection develop more serious cases than those who do not and this includes a higher risk of dying!
Not to mention that myocarditis is just one of the many heart conditions directly linked to testing positive for COVID.
When myocarditis develops as a result of vaccination, most of the cases are mild and heal by themselves really quickly.
More precisely, in the adult age group, 95 percent of cases were considered to be mild.
In children, no less than 98.6 percent were mild cases, there have been no deaths and no need for mechanical heart support.
All of the kids who have experienced this have been able to fully recover.