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Myocarditis Following COVID Vaccine Is Rare; Experts Advise People Not To Fear Vaccination

Myocarditis is believed to be a major side effect of COVID vaccines, but a group of researchers have found that the cases are rare and manageable. No need to skip vaccination due to this fear.

Researchers have been working tirelessly for the past three years to understand the COVID-19 disease and how it impacts our bodies. By now, we are familiar that coronavirus can damage our health in various ways. Last year, a disease called myocarditis was discovered as a plausible complication of COVID-19 disease, and many were infected with it. Since then, researchers have found myocarditis, commonly known as inflammation of the heart muscle, often occurs as a result of a viral infection such as COVID.

Myocarditis can alter the heart's rhythm and capacity to pump blood, as well as cause long-term damage to the heart muscle in the form of scarring. Myocarditis has also been reported as an uncommon side effect of COVID-19 vaccinations based on messenger RNA (mRNA). In this light, researchers at the University of Toronto studied the link between the coronavirus vaccine and heart muscle injury.

MRI To Understand COVID Vaccine-Associated Heart Muscle Injury

The researchers reviewed data from 92 adult patients with myocarditis and anomalies on cardiac MRI done at a tertiary referral hospital between 2019 and 2021 for this retrospective investigation. Myocarditis following COVID-19 vaccine, myocarditis following COVID-19 illness, and myocarditis not connected with COVID-19 immunization or illness were the three groups of patients studied.

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Following COVID-19 vaccination, 21 (22 per cent) of the 92 individuals developed myocarditis (mean age 31 years). Following COVID-19 infection, ten individuals (11 per cent) developed myocarditis (mean age 51 years), while 61 (66 per cent) had other myocarditis (mean age 44 years). In comparison to the other groups, those who developed myocarditis after vaccination were younger and more likely to be male.

All 21 individuals with vaccine-associated myocarditis experienced chest discomfort. One to seven days after immunization, the pain began and lasted one to six days. Fourteen patients (67 per cent) were admitted to the hospital, with a median stay of three days. The intensive care unit did not receive any patients. Troponin levels were increased in all of the patients hospitalized to the hospital, but they had significantly dropped by the time they were discharged.

In vaccine-related myocarditis, MRI results included late gadolinium enhancement in 17 (81 per cent) cases and left ventricular failure in 6 cases (29 per cent). Patients with vaccine-associated myocarditis had a less functional impairment and less severe myocardial abnormalities than patients with other types of myocarditis, according to cardiac MRI. Patients with COVID-19 infection and other myocarditis showed a higher prevalence of interventricular septum anomalies and worse myocardial damage as determined by T1 mapping.

COVID Vaccine-Induced Myocarditis Is Rare; No Need To Skip Getting Vaccinated

All patients with vaccine-associated myocarditis were asymptomatic and had no adverse outcomes after a short period of follow-up (median 22 days). COVID-19 infection can cause cardiac damage, which has been linked to poor outcomes in hospitalised patients, according to the researchers, and this risk should be evaluated against the low risk of vaccine-related problems.

"Not only is myocarditis following COVID-19 vaccination very rare, but it also tends to be less severe than myocarditis following SARS-CoV2 infection," Dr Hanneman said.

Paaladinesh Thavendiranathan, M.D., S.M., a co-investigator and cardiologist, agrees. "Patients should not avoid COVID-19 vaccination for fear of myocarditis," he said. "The risk of myocarditis seems to be much higher following COVID-19 illness. However, if patients do experience symptoms -- especially chest pain -- early after COVID-19 vaccination, they should seek medical attention."

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