Research does not suggest a link between the COVID-19 vaccine and heart attacks. But the vaccine can lead to mild heart inflammation in some people and COVID-19 infection causes heart inflammation at higher rates.
As with most vaccines, you may experience some side effects with the COVID-19 vaccine. The most common side effect is soreness or redness at the site of the injection. You may have also heard about heart-related side effects and wondered if this is a cause for concern.
While there’s no credible evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine increases the risk of heart attack, it can lead to heart inflammation in some people. However, this effect is typically mild and goes away with treatment.
It’s also important to keep in mind that, according to
Keep reading to learn more about whether the vaccine is safe for people with heart conditions and whether the COVID-19 vaccine increases your risk of a heart attack.
These concerns initially came about due to an
This abstract presented a short summary of preliminary research that had not yet been peer reviewed by other scientists.
What did the abstract say?
Researchers used something called the Protein Unstable Lesion Signature (PULS) Cardiac Test in 566 people visiting a cardiac clinic. All of these individuals had recently received the second dose of one of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna).
The PULS Cardiac Test claims to predict heart attack risk over a 5-year period by measuring nine different markers in a blood sample. After the marker levels are determined, a score is generated. A higher PULS score may indicate an increased heart attack risk.
In the individuals tested, three of the nine markers had increased following vaccination. These markers were associated with inflammation. The increase boosted the PULS score by a predicted 11 percent compared to pre-vaccination levels.
What happened next?
Following the publication of this abstract, some outlets reported that, due to the increase in PULS score, the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines increased the risk of heart attack.
The American Heart Association released an
In response to these concerns, the authors of the abstract
Vaccination usually raises inflammation levels temporarily as your body generates a response to the vaccine. Because of this, it’s natural to see increases in some markers of inflammation. However, these cannot currently be directly tied to heart attack risk.
There’s currently no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine increases your heart attack risk.
Some observations have found an increase in certain markers of inflammation following vaccination. However, it remains to be determined how exactly these findings may affect heart attack risk, if at all.
The COVID-19 vaccine is safe for people with heart conditions.
Clinical trials have been done to determine the safety and effectiveness of each of the vaccines in use in the United States. These trials included both healthy individuals and those with various underlying health conditions, including heart conditions.
In fact, vaccination is actually vital if you have a heart condition. This is because individuals with heart conditions are at an increased risk of experiencing serious illness if they get COVID-19.
According to the
- have experienced a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, to a previous dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or to one of its ingredients
- have a known allergy to an ingredient in the COVID-19 vaccine
- developed thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), a severe blood clotting condition, following vaccination with the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine (these individuals should choose an mRNA vaccine instead)
Both myocarditis and pericarditis have been reported after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle. Pericarditis is inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart.
According to the
- in adolescent or young adult males
- after vaccination with an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine such as Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna
- following the second vaccine dose
- within a week of vaccination
Overall, this side effect is rare. A
You actually have a greater risk of developing myocarditis from COVID-19 than from the vaccine.
COVID-19 doesn’t just affect the lungs and respiratory tract. Contracting the novel coronavirus can also lead to a variety of heart- and blood-related issues as well, such as:
- damage to the heart muscle
- blood clots, which can cause complications like heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, and deep vein thrombosis
- heart failure
A 2021 Cochrane review examined 220 studies that reported heart-related issues due to COVID-19. It found that the most common heart issues associated with COVID-19 were arrhythmias, blood clots, and heart failure.
Other effects of COVID-19
COVID-19 can affect many different organs and tissues in your body. For example, COVID-19 can also affect your:
- lungs, potentially leading to pneumonia, lung damage, and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
- nervous system, causing headache, loss of smell and taste, dizziness, nerve pain, and seizures
- kidneys, causing kidney damage
- liver, leading to liver damage
- pancreas, causing pancreatic damage
- digestive tract, leading to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain
- eyes, causing conjunctivitis
- skin, leading to rashes or “COVID toes”
Some people may also experience lingering symptoms in the weeks and months after recovering from COVID-19. This is often referred to as long COVID and may include, but isn’t limited to:
Long COVID isn’t uncommon. A
Older adults and people with certain health conditions are at an increased risk of becoming seriously ill due to COVID-19. According to the
A study published in Heart reviewed 51 studies, including 48,317 people with COVID-19. It found that cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes were associated with a higher risk of severe disease or death due to COVID-19 across all age groups.
As such, the American Heart Association has put out a
Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 can protect you from becoming sick with COVID-19. Should you contract the virus, it can help lower your risk of serious illness, hospitalization, or death.
There’s not any reliable evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine can cause heart attacks. This idea is based on a misinterpretation of preliminary research findings. Overall, further research into this topic is needed.
It’s true that in rare cases, the COVID-19 vaccine can lead to myocarditis and pericarditis. However, the risk of these conditions is actually higher after contracting COVID-19 than after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID-19 itself can cause potentially serious heart-related issues. Additionally, individuals with heart conditions are at an increased risk of serious illness or death due to COVID-19. That’s why it’s important to get vaccinated if you have a heart condition.
The COVID-19 vaccine is safe for people with heart conditions. If you have concerns about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, talk with your doctor or cardiologist. They can help answer any questions you have about the vaccine and your heart condition.