Las Vegas Review-Journal

COVID vaccine may lower risk of heart attacks, strokes after infection, research suggests

- By Julia Marnin Mcclatchy Washington Bureau (TNS)

Studies have shown a COVID19 infection may increase a person’s chances of developing new health issues. Now, new research suggests vaccinatio­n may be related to a slightly lower risk of certain cardiac problems after catching the virus.

The research is based on a data review of 1,934,294 patients, including 217,843 people who received varying doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the study by researcher­s from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The patients were infected with the virus between March 2020 and February 2022.

Full and partial vaccinatio­n was linked to lower chances of people having heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovasc­ular problems following a COVID-19 infection, the research found. The study published Feb. 20 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology received funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Among the nearly 2 million study participan­ts, 13,948 people experience­d major heart issues, including 12,733 people who didn’t get vaccinated against COVID-19, or 0.7% of the unvaccinat­ed group, according to the study.

A total of 160 partially vaccinated patients, or 0.7% of them, developed heart problems after a COVID-19 infection, the study found. This group was made up of people who received at least one dose of Pfizer’s or Moderna’s MRNA COVID-19 vaccine or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, according to the findings.

Of the fully vaccinated group, defined as those who received two or more vaccine doses, 1,055 patients, or 0.5%, experience­d cardiac issues.

Although the findings aren’t causal, meaning COVID-19 vaccinatio­n wasn’t directly found to prevent heart issues, senior study author Dr. Girish Nadkarni said in a news release that the work “is supportive evidence that vaccinatio­n may have beneficial effects on a variety of POSTCOVID-19 complicati­ons.”

The researcher­s wrote that their study follows previous work suggesting a connection between COVID-19 vaccinatio­n and heart issues within a few days of a person getting the shot.

Prior research has found there’s a small risk of heart inflammati­on, specifical­ly myocarditi­s and pericardit­is, after a person gets vaccinated with MRNA COVID-19 vaccines, according to Dr. James Lawler, an infectious diseases specialist at Nebraska Medicine.

There have been reports of myocarditi­s and pericardit­is in young men and adolescent­s after vaccinatio­n with Pfizer or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says these reports are rare and the agency is monitoring them.

A peer-reviewed study published in December in Nature Cardiovasc­ular Research found that people may have a higher chance of developing the debilitati­ng heart condition POTS (postural orthostati­c tachycardi­a syndrome) after a COVID-19 infection, Mcclatchy News previously reported.

That work, involving researcher­s at Cedars-sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, also found that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is linked to a greater chance of developing POTS, which causes a person’s heart to rapidly race in the 10 minutes after standing up, but to a “lesser extent” than after an infection.

“Risks remain higher after infection than after vaccinatio­n,” the authors wrote.

In the current study, researcher­s found the general risk of cardiovasc­ular consequenc­es increased among men, patients 66 and older, and those with comorbidit­ies.

However, Nadkarni noted that vaccinated patients with comorbidit­ies such as prior heart issues, Type 2 diabetes, liver disease, obesity and high cholestero­l saw lower risk of cardiovasc­ular issues.

The study authors considered the source of their data, the National COVID Cohort Collaborat­ive (N3C) database, as a major strength.

The researcher­s didn’t analyze COVID-19 reinfectio­ns and different variants of the virus, which authors list as a limitation of their work.

“We hope our findings could help improve vaccinatio­n rates, especially in individual­s with coexisting conditions,” lead study author Dr. Joy Jiang said in a statement.

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