New findings about heart inflammation and COVID vaccination

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In a study from the University of Toronto, scientists found evidence of heart muscle inflammation in a small number of patients with acute myocarditis after COVID-19 vaccination, but not in patients without acute myocarditis.

Myocarditis is the inflammation of the middle layer of the heart wall.

Myocarditis can affect the heart’s rhythm and ability to pump blood and may leave behind lasting damage in the form of scarring of the heart muscle.

Many people worldwide have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Some cases of myocarditis have been reported following mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccination.

Most instances of myocarditis after COVID-19 vaccination has occurred in adolescent and young adult males. However, the overall risk is very low.

Some patients may experience cardiac symptoms after vaccination, including shortness of breath, palpitations, and chest pain, yet do not meet the diagnostic criteria for acute myocarditis.

In the study, the team examined the heart effects of COVID-19 vaccination at a two-month follow-up and related heart symptoms.

They tested 54 participants about 72 days after COVID-19 vaccination. Seventeen were symptomatic with myocarditis, 17 were symptomatic without myocarditis, and 20 were asymptomatic.

The team found that health-related quality of life was lower in the symptomatic myocarditis group than in the asymptomatic group. There were no other heart disease events beyond myocarditis.

The results also suggested that heart injury is not common after COVID-19 vaccination, based on normal cardiac PET, ECG, and blood biomarker findings in the asymptomatic patient group.

The researchers hope these findings reassure people who did not experience symptoms after COVID-19 vaccination but worry about the possibility of subclinical cardiac disease.

Further study is needed to test non-cardiovascular causes of symptoms after vaccination in people.

This is the first prospective study to report comprehensive tests and imaging in both people after COVID-19 vaccination.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about how eating eggs can help reduce heart disease risk, and herbal supplements could harm your heart rhythm.

For more information about COVID, please see recent studies that many people with long COVID get memory problems, and results showing this drug may relieve painful ‘long covid’ symptoms.

The study was conducted by Kate Hanneman et al and published in Radiology: Cardiothoracic Imaging.

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