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CDC Confirms Risk of Heart Issues After COVID-19 Infection

For the millions of Americans that have gotten COVID-19, the health care journey isn’t over. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed in a new report that the risk of cardiac complications persists following infection and recovery.

The report released April 1 paints the picture of ongoing risks and negative health outcomes that could spring up after a patient has gotten COVID-19. The report also touches on the potential risk of heart issues after receiving an mRNA vaccine for the coronavirus. The two mRNA vaccines available are from Pfizer and Moderna.

The report said cardiac complications, “particularly myocarditis and pericarditis,” have been tied to COVID-19 infection and mRNA COVID-19 vaccination. Additionally, the study by the CDC found cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which the health agency described as “a rare but serious complication of SARS-CoV-2 infection with frequent cardiac involvement.”

The study found the risk for all three cardiac conditions was increased between one and three weeks after infection or vaccination.

In some respects, the CDC report provides support to a stance taken weeks ago by the DeSantis administration and Florida Department of Health – specifically, the updated guidance provided by State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo which recommended against healthy children receiving COVID-19 vaccines.

Male youths were the patient group with the highest level of risk for developing the cardiac conditions after both vaccination and infection. For male patients 12 to 17 years old, the CDC said the risk for cardiac outcomes was highest “after the second vaccine dose” from an mRNA vaccine, but was even higher after a COVID-19 infection.

“The incidence of cardiac outcomes after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination was highest for males aged 12–17 years after the second vaccine dose; however, within this demographic group, the risk for cardiac outcomes was 1.8–5.6 times as high after SARS-CoV-2 infection than after the second vaccine dose,” the CDC said. “The risk for cardiac outcomes was likewise significantly higher after SARS-CoV-2 infection than after first, second, or unspecified dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccination for all other groups by sex and age.”

However, the CDC study specifically focuses on risks from mRNA vaccines, meaning the Johnson & Johnson shot is not included in the treatments and prevention options that may provide additional risks to patients.

The CDC said due to their findings, they continue to support use of the mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 among all eligible patients, being anyone 5 years or older.

In an updated FDOH guidance released on March 8, the state health department included the following risks for vaccination, when recommending against receiving the shots:

  • Limited risk of severe illness due to COVID-19
  • High prevalence of existing immunity among children
  • Absence of data informing benefit of COVID-19 vaccination among children with existing immunity
  • In clinical trials, higher-than-anticipated serious adverse events occurred among those receiving
  • the COVID-19 vaccine
  • Reduced COVID-19 vaccine efficacy among children 5-17
  • Risk of myocarditis due to the COVID-19 vaccine
  • The FDOH cited studies to support their recommendation.

At the time, the CDC remained supportive of vaccination, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the vaccines had continued to prove “safe and effective.”

The new CDC study still supports use of COVID-19 vaccinations, though it found the risks were higher among young, biologically male patients, rather than all patients between 12 and 17 years old.

The study data used was pulled from 40 health care systems to study the risk of cardiac complications from COVID-19 and mRNA vaccinations for COVID-19, among male and female patients across multiple age demographics.