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How Are COVID-19 Vaccines Related to Athletes Experiencing Heart-Related Issues?

Mustafa Afandy Mustafa Afandy
24th January 2022
How Are COVID-19 Vaccines Related to Athletes Experiencing Heart-Related Issues?
No proof COVID-19 vaccines may cause heart issues (Getty).

Note: The views and opinions expressed in blog/editorial posts are those of the author. They do not reflect the views or opinions of Misbar.

Several athletes, mostly footballers, have suffered as a result of heart problems in the last six months, while others have been forced to retire early. Christian Eriksen of Denmark collapsed during the opening match of the 2020 Euros, Barcelona's Sergio Aguero was forced to retire early due to heart problems, Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof has been fitted with a heart monitor following a health scare while playing against Norwich last December, and Oman international Mukhaled Al-Raqadi died after suffering a heart attack during warm-up. Earlier this month, Qatar's Ousmane Coulibaly joined the list of players suffering from heart problems after collapsing during a football match in the Qatar Stars League, among others.

Anti-vaccine activists used these disturbing incidents to establish a link between COVID-19 vaccination and athletes' recent heart problems (here and here). They compiled a list of players who were allegedly injured or killed by vaccines and began disseminating it on social media. According to them, one of the known life-threatening side effects of Covid vaccines is heart problems, such as heart inflammation, which even the manufacturers warn against.

Heart attacks are not a new phenomenon in sports history, which has documented several instances of athletes collapsing and, in some cases, tragically dying during sports activities. According to one study, cardiac arrests are more common in athletes because exercise increases the likelihood of these unstable cardiac rhythms in people with underlying heart abnormalities. As a result, some sports programs have begun screening athletes for cardiac disorders before participating in competitive sports.

However, anti-vaccine activists successfully raised public concerns about the safety and side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines. The short period between the reported incidents was used to falsely claim a link between vaccines and athletes' recent heart attacks. According to a report, nearly 300 athletes have suffered cardiac arrest, and over 167 have died since the COVID vaccines became available. As the number of athletes suffering from heart problems rises, the debate over the safety of COVID vaccines resurfaces. However, the main question remains: what do experts have to say about the current issues?

No evidence to support the link between athletes heart issues and COVID vaccines:

According to Reuters, the British drug and vaccine regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said such claims lack evidence. In addition, the MHRA is closely monitoring reports of suspected heart inflammation, myocarditis, or pericarditis. Moreover, the British charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) told Reuters it was “not aware” of any published or peer-reviewed research into alleged links between sudden cardiac arrest in athletes and COVID-19 vaccines. Sadly, young sudden cardiac death (in both sportspeople and the general population) is not a new phenomenon.

According to Professor Guido Pieles, head of the Sports Cardiology Clinic at the Institute of Sport, Exercise, and Health, footballers' heart problems are not more common. The expert advises footballers and elite athletes to have regular cardiac screenings to maximize their protection throughout their careers.

COVID-19, on the other hand, may cause heart damage even after recovery, according to research. Another JAMA Cardiology study examined cardiac MRIs on 100 people who had recovered from COVID-19 in the previous two to three months. Researchers discovered abnormalities in the hearts of 78% of recovered patients and "ongoing myocardial inflammation" in 60%. The same study found high troponin levels, a blood enzyme that indicates heart damage, in 76 percent of patients tested, despite the fact that heart function appeared to be generally preserved.

Misbar’s sources:

The Sun 
Free West Media 
Khel Now
Jama Network