If you have a heart ailment, you know how important it is to take your medicine — and to make sure the medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements you take don’t exacerbate your condition. It’s not uncommon, then, to have some questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and its potential effects on cardiac health.
As a leading Arizona cardiology practice with offices in Glendale, Goodyear, Anthem, and Canyon City, Phoenix Heart wants patients to understand why getting the vaccine is important for their health — and why delaying vaccination can be so very dangerous, especially for patients with heart ailments. Here’s what you need to know.
Vaccine and heart health: Should you be concerned?
As a heart patient, getting vaccines is nothing new. The CDC recommends an annual flu shot for most Americans, with or without heart disease. But if you do have heart disease, then getting that vaccine is even more important because it can help you avoid more serious complications and hospitalizations.
So then, why are so many people concerned about the COVID-19 vaccine and their heart health? A good deal of the concern has to do with the speed at which the vaccines reached the market.
Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)
In the United States, we’re used to any new medication taking years to come to the market. But the FDA does have the authority to “speed up” the process without diluting the safety end of development. This process is called “Emergency Use Authorization,” and it’s these guidelines that allowed the COVID-19 vaccines to become available so rapidly — faster than most new medications.
It’s really important to know that even though the vaccines came to market quickly, they’re still backed up by huge clinical trials that showed them not only to be effective in preventing disease but safe to administer, as well. Studies of the vaccines’ effects on newly emerging variants, like the Delta variant, are also ongoing to ensure people stay protected and safe.
The vaccine and your heart
Over the past 18 months or so, researchers and doctors have gathered a wealth of firsthand knowledge about how the virus affects the heart and the cardiovascular system. Although the vaccine was recently introduced, medical professionals also have a surprising amount of knowledge about how the vaccine works and the potential side effects it can have.
Recently, there have been some data showing that a very small subset of patients — almost exclusively young males in their late teens and early 20s — have developed myocarditis (heart inflammation) after receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. This complication is extremely rare, and nearly all of these patients recovered on their own or with minimal medical assistance. Still, as a heart patient, you might be wondering what that means for your vaccination.
Major benefits for heart patients
Although researchers aren’t sure why myocarditis occurs in a very rare subset of young males following vaccination, what they do know is that the COVID-19 vaccine is very effective in preventing infection with the coronavirus, and it’s also very effective at preventing serious complications, hospitalizations, and death among people who’ve been fully vaccinated.
They also know that if you have heart disease and you contract the COVID-19 virus without being vaccinated, you have a much higher risk of serious disease, major complications, and death. That means that while getting fully vaccinated is important for all eligible people, it’s especially critical for people with heart disease.
Bottom line: This is a case where the very big benefits far outweigh the very rare risk of a potential complication — a complication that’s only occurred in a tiny subset of people within a restricted age group and without existing heart issues. For that reason, the CDC and the American Heart Association recommend that everyone eligible for vaccination — including younger males — be fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
Protect your heart health: Get vaccinated
At Phoenix Heart, our team is active in clinical trials that help develop the drugs and devices that keep heart patients healthy. We recommend getting vaccinated against COVID-19 to help protect your heart and your health.
If you still have concerns or questions, call or book an appointment online so we can provide you with the care and guidance you need to enjoy the best possible health.