While there have been reports of adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines, including heart attacks, it is essential to understand that these cases are rare and occur at a much lower rate than the risk of severe COVID-19.
By Zoya Hussain
Recently, some 'news' reports of heart attacks in young and healthy individuals in India have raised concerns about the potential impact of COVID-19 vaccines on heart health. According to the World Health Organization, India accounts for at least one-fifth of the 17.9 million cardiovascular disease-related deaths globally, especially in the younger generation.
"Heart attacks occur due to clot formation in the arteries of the heart. It has been shown that both COVID and its vaccine can increase the tendency of clot formation. So, whenever a heart attack occurs in a background milieu of high COVID prevalence in society, it is presumed to be either due to the disease or the vaccine - whichever has close proximity to the occurrence of a heart attack," says Dr OP Yadav, Chief Cardiologist, National Heart Institute, New Delhi, India.
Several studies have been conducted to evaluate the safety of COVID-19 vaccines and their impact on heart health. "The COVID disease itself can affect the heart much more than the vaccines," notes the renowned cardiologist.
Scientific evidence shows that COVID may cause inflammation of the muscles of the heart (Myocarditis) and of the surrounding covering layer of the heart (Pericarditis). It may increase the clotting power of the blood and its viscosity leading to thrombus (clot) formation in the arteries. If the clot forms in the brain, it leads to a paralytic attack (Stroke or Cerebro-Vascular Accident) and if the clot forms in the heart, it can lead to a heart attack.
The irregular rhythm of the heart, especially of the upper chambers (Atrial Fibrillation), may occur in an occasional patient. The disease process could, in some cases, even lead to heart failure.
While there have been reports of adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines, including heart attacks, it is essential to understand that these cases are rare and occur at a much lower rate than the risk of severe COVID-19 infection itself.