Myocarditis and its relationship to COVID vaccine explained

Heart pain stock photo.
Photo credit Getty Images

Should you be worried about myocarditis if you are getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

Although the condition has been linked to COVID-19 vaccines, Dr. Chandhiran Rangaswamy, a University of Louisville Health physician who specializes in cardiovascular medicine, said the side effect is extremely rare.
Other health experts agree, according to USA Today.

Podcast Episode
Coronavirus Daily
Learning to live with COVID-19 forever. Plus, a CDC panel recommends Pfizer booster shots for millions of Americans.
Listen Now
Now Playing
Now Playing

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle, or myocardium, which can reduce the heart's ability to pump said the Mayo Clinic. It is usually caused by viral infections and can also be related to drug reactions and general inflammatory conditions. Symptoms include chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, and rapid or irregular heartbeats. In severe cases, the heart can become so weak that the body does not get enough blood and clots form in the heat, causing strokes or hear attacks.

In June, there were 323 cases of heart inflammation in people ages 12 to 29 who had gotten the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, according to USA Today. Ramaswamy said the risk of developing the condition after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is around 1 percent. He said people should focus on the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination.

“As with anything in medicine, we look at the risk-benefit ratio. The risk of taking that vaccine is far outweighed by the benefit of preventing yourself from getting COVID-19,” Ramaswamy said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend COVID-19 vaccines for everyone over age 12. The centers deem the vaccines safe and effective at preventing severe infection from the virus.

According to the CDC, young males may be more susceptible to the rare side effect within several days of receiving their shots. However, Rangaswamy said it's not clear who's more affected at this time due to selection bias in epidemiological studies.

It’s also unclear whether a specific brand of vaccine is more likely to trigger the reaction.

“When you're talking about such a small percentage, or incidence rate, of the condition to begin with, it's very hard to differentiate one from the other unless you have a large sample size of the actual condition,” Rangaswamy said.

According to a CBC report, a Canadian study that has since been withdrawn incorrectly said there was a one in 1,000 risk of developing myocarditis from COVID-19 vaccines. The report said this study was “weaponized” by anti-vaccine communities online.

LISTEN on the Audacy App
Sign Up and Follow Audacy
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram