Findings from a small study detailing the treatment of myocarditis-like symptoms in seven people after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine in the US were published today in the main journal of the American Heart Association Circulation.
These cases are among those reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), documenting the development of myocarditis-like symptoms in some people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Myocarditis is a rare but serious disease that causes inflammation of the medial layer of the heart muscle wall. It can weaken the heart and affect the heart’s electrical system, which keeps the heart beating regularly. Most of the time, it is the result of an infection and/or inflammation caused by a virus.
The study included seven patients hospitalized for acute myocarditis-like illness after a COVID-19 vaccination, treated at hospitals in Falls Church, Virginia (a suburb of Washington, D.C.) and Dallas. All patients were male under 40 years of age; the youngest was 19 and the oldest 39.
Six of the men were white adults, one was a Hispanic adult. Only one patient reported a history of previous COVID-19 infection; six of the seven patients were tested for COVID-19 during hospitalization and were negative.
Six of the men received COVID-19 mRNA vaccines; five of the vaccines were manufactured by Pfizer / BioNTech and one by Moderna. One patient received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 adenovirus vaccine.
All patients were hospitalized within three to seven days after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, with sudden onset chest pain. Myocardial damage was confirmed by cardiac troponin I or high sensitivity troponin test.
All patients had stable vital signs. None had a friction or pericardial rash, a sound that could signal pericarditis diagnosis, which is inflammation of the thin membrane surrounding the heart. ECG results ranged from a normal heart rate to ST-segment elevation, which may indicate a decrease in blood flow to the heart muscle.
The three patients undergoing invasive medical imaging did not show signs of coronary blockage. None of the patients reported heart palpitations and none showed signs of cardiac arrhythmias.
Treatment varied and included beta-blockers and anti-inflammatory drugs. Patients left the hospital within two to four days of admission, and all symptoms resolved before hospital discharge.
“The clinical course of the vaccine-associated myocarditis-like disease appears favourable, with resolution of symptoms in all patients. Given the potential morbidity of COVID-19 infection, even in younger adults, the benefit-risk decision for vaccination remains highly favorable. The reporting of vaccine adverse events remains of great importance and more studies are needed to elucidate the pathophysiological mechanism to potentially identify or prevent future occurrences,” said the researchers.
The American Heart Association continues to urge all adults and children age 12 and older in the US to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they can, as recommended by the CDC. Research continues to indicate that COVID-19 vaccines are 91% effective in preventing severe COVID-19 infection and spreading the virus to others. Furthermore, the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the very unusual risks.
According to the CDC, fewer than 1,000 cases of myocarditis-like illnesses were reported as of May 31, 2021, and nearly 312 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the US to date.
The CDC is holding a special meeting on Friday, June 18, to review evidence of suspected cases of developing myocarditis in some patients after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, as reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Notification System . The Association’s scientific leaders are participating in the meeting for new developments.