Is the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine causing more heart conditions?

Pfizer vaccine linked to instances of myocarditis - heart inflammation
Photo via Marco Verch Professional Photographer/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

A report out of Israel is linking a spike in myocarditis, a heart inflammation condition, to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. 

The report found more than 110 instances of myocarditis in young men in the immediate aftermath of a COVID vaccination, and 95 of them occurred following a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The majority of cases occurred in men between the ages of 16-24.

The report was presented by a committee, appointed by Israel’s health ministry, which aims to investigate a possible connection between myocarditis and the COVID vaccines. The report states that its findings “raise the likelihood of a causal link between the vaccine and myocarditis.”

Myocarditis is often a relatively low-risk condition, but in some instances, it can lead to lasting health issues. While it is known to sometimes go away on its own, it can lead to permanent damage of the heart muscle. In long-term cases, this can lead to an increased risk of heart failure, heart attack or stroke, arrhythmia, and—in rare cases—sudden cardiac death, according to Mayo Clinic

An analysis out of Hadassah Medical Center, which serves the Jerusalem area, found a notable spike in myocarditis cases. Instances of myocarditis were almost 25 times the number from previous years. In a three-month period, 20 cases were noted, about five times the normal amount in previous years. Almost all of the cases occurred in men under the age of 30. 

Eighteen of the 20 cases appeared within four days of their second mRNA COVID vaccine, and all presented with chest pain or difficulty breathing. 

This is not the first time researchers have noted a potential link between the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines and myocarditis. It is difficult to track these instances globally, however, due to limitations in tracking systems and a lack of baseline rates. 

As noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Johns Hopkins Medicine, the risks of contracting COVID-19 still outweigh any risks the vaccines may present. Particularly for people who have existing heart conditions, a case of COVID could be a death sentence.

Sources: Intelligencer, CDC, Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins Medicine

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