By Parmita Uniyal, New Delhi
As more reports of sudden cardiac arrest in a young and healthy trickle in from various parts of the country, the possible impact of Covid vaccine on the heart has once again come under the spotlight. Even as Covid vaccines have been marked safe and effective, medical practitioners do not completely rule out a mild impact of vaccines on heart health. They however maintain that vaccine benefits far outweigh the side effects, if any, suspected in people. (Also read: How to avoid sudden cardiac arrest in the elderly)
#Heartattack trended on Twitter a few days back after a series of unfortunate cardiac deaths – from a bride dying of a heart attack during her varmala ceremony to a bus driver in Jabalpur succumbing to sudden cardiac arrest while driving the vehicle and in the process killing two others. Not so long back, a middle-aged guy collapsed while dancing at his relative’s wedding while the others looked on with horror. Such incidents are being reported after every few days and make people wonder if it is Covid or the vaccine that could be the culprit behind sudden cardiac deaths.
“Recently, we have seen a lot of young people dying of acute heart attack and cardiac arrest in particular while doing physical activity like dancing, driving, wedding ceremonies and all. This was seen during peak Covid time also, when a lot of people had presentation of cardiac arrest. Now post Covid vaccine too, we have seen increase in cardiac events even when infected with milder form of Covid infection. Waves spurred by Omicron are lighter but they have got their own effect,” says Dr Viveka Kumar, Principal Director & Chief of Cath Labs (Pan Max) – Cardiac Sciences.
“Couple of studies suggest that even if somebody had Covid few years back, the effect may last longer than a year and a half – even two years. Probably, we are seeing spurt in cardiovascular sudden deaths and Myocardial infraction because of Covid sequelae,” says Dr Kumar.
“Vaccine is not a complete answer yet because vaccine also led to certain side effects and caused cardiac events. There are people who have had only vaccine and within a week or a month’s time, we saw that patient came with heart attack. Even after taking booster dose, no further guidelines also whether in this milder Omicron era, people should take booster doses or not. Covid is really taking its toll. Side effects of vaccine is of lesser intensity but Covid infection is causing increased events of cardiovascular events especially cardiac arrest,” adds Dr Kumar.
According to Dr Neha Rastogi Panda, Consultant Infectious Diseases, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram, Covid vaccine is rarely associated with any cardiac issues.
“Pfizer vaccine has been associated with rare cases of myocarditis – inflammation, and thickening of heart muscle but to date among million vaccine users – 3-4 cases have been found and not fatal. The vaccine has minimal to no effect on heart rhythm abnormality except mild fluctuations in heart rate immediately post-vaccination which is rare and mild in nature requiring no treatment. Covid disease itself causes more inflammation and long-term sequelae than the vaccine,” says Dr Panda.
She adds that no cardiac arrest and no heart attack at a football match or any other untoward cardiac incident is directly linked with Covid vaccine.
“Heart ailments – inflammation, coronary artery diseases or even heart attacks are multifactorial in nature with various attributes – lifestyle i.e sedentary, obesity, food habits. Second important factor – pre-existing comorbidities or conditions – diabetes, hypertension, lipid disturbance.
The third important factor could be COVID infection and its long-term sequelae. Both delta and omicron variant of COVID induces mild to moderate inflammation, thrombosis – blood clot along with gradual changes in the architecture of heart muscles and we have observed after COVID cardiac issues and problems.
As far as the vaccine is considered no strong data to suggest an adverse cardiac event or changes after the vaccine,” says Dr Panda.
HT Digital Streams Ltd.