Most of the small percentage of young people who develop suspected myocarditis after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine go on to recover rather quickly, according to new findings published in Circulation.
“The highest rates of myocarditis following COVID-19 vaccination have been reported among adolescent and young adult males,” senior author Jane W. Newburger, MD, MPH, a professor at Harvard Medical School and member of the American Heart Association’s Council on Lifelong Congenital Heart Disease and Heart Health in the Young, said in a statement. “Past research shows this rare side effect to be associated with some other vaccines, most notably the smallpox vaccine. While current data on symptoms, case severity and short-term outcomes is limited, we set out to examine a large group of suspected cases of this heart condition as it relates to the COVID-19 vaccine in teens and adults younger than 21 in North America.”
Newburger et al. examined data from 26 different pediatric medical centers in the United States and Canada, identifying a total of 139 cases of suspected vaccine-related myocarditis. While 90.6% of patients were men, 66.2% were white. The median patient age was 15.8 years old.
Symptoms—including chest pain, fever and shortness of breath—tend to begin two days after the patient receives the vaccine. Most patients were hospitalized for two to three days, and 18.7% of patients were admitted to intensive care.
No deaths were reported. The heart function of every single patient who returned for a follow-up appointment was back to normal, the authors emphasized.
“We were very happy to see that type of recovery,” added first author Dongngan T. Truong, MD, a pediatric cardiologist at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. “However, we are awaiting further studies to better understand the long-term outcomes of patients who have had COVID-19 vaccination-related myocarditis. We also need to study the risk factors and mechanisms for this rare complication.”
“Overwhelmingly, data continue to indicate that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination—91% effective at preventing complications of severe COVID-19 infection including hospitalization and death—far exceed the very rare risks of adverse events, including myocarditis,” Donald. M. Lloyd-Jones, MD, president of the American Heart Association, said in the same statement. Lloyd-Jones was not involved in the analysis.
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