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Sunday, February 5, 2023

COVID-19: How inflammation in the heart muscle can be handled

As Ghana and other countries intensify efforts to vaccinate their population, one of the many side effects that are gaining attention is a type of inflammation in the heart muscle called myocarditis. Medical experts say those who experience mild cases of heart inflammation mostly recovered on themselves or with minimal treatment and rest.

The US Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said there is a “relationship” between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and reported cases of heart inflammation.

“That number was originally thought to be high,” says Yale Medicine cardiologist Rachel Lampert, MD.

“But in subsequent publications, reporting on studies with tens of thousands of athletes, the actual incidence of myocarditis in college athletes with COVID is much lower than had been originally thought. In a recent study of over 19,000 athletes who underwent COVID testing, 3,018 had COVID, and of these, just 0.7% had cardiac involvement,” he added.

This explainer will attempt to give a better understanding of this COVID-19 related symptom and ways to handle it.

What Is Myocarditis?

Myocarditis is a condition in which your heart muscle, called the myocardium, becomes inflamed. It affects your heart’s electrical signal and may cause a rapid or abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia). It can also affect your heart’s ability to pump blood and circulate oxygen.

What Are the Causes?

It usually results from a viral infection or a drug reaction. It can happen to anyone, including adults, children, and infants. It’s more likely to affect people under 30 who are otherwise healthy. It affects men twice as often as women.

What Are the Symptoms?

Myocarditis can range from mild to severe. It also affects children differently. In mild cases, symptoms can include Chest pain, Shortness of breath, Heart flutter etc.

“The pain is typically sharp and persistent versus brief pain that only lasts a couple of minutes. The patients we have seen all presented with persistent chest discomfort,” said Erin Faherty, MD, a pediatric cardiologist at Yale Medicine

In severe cases, you might notice Chest pain, Rapid or abnormal heart rhythms, Shortness of breath, at rest or during physical activity, swelling in your legs, ankles, and feet Fatigue.

Many of these symptoms can be found in children too.

Can the COVID-19 Vaccine Cause Heart Inflammation?

Yes, but experts aren’t sure what the link is. The US CDC said only about 1,000 people have gotten vaccine-related myocarditis.

“We know that some people with COVID got myocarditis. But there was a lot of COVID at one time, and we may have been more tuned into these cases as compared with sporadic cases due to other viruses that are less prevalent,” says Dr Lampert.

So far, the US Centers for Disease Control‘s  Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) says myocarditis seems to occur in the following circumstances:

  1. In adolescent and young adult males 16 years or older
  2. After the second dose of one of the two mRNA COVID-19 vaccines
  3. Within several days after getting the vaccine

Health experts say anyone who experiences any of the symptoms listed should seek medical care if you or your child have any of these symptoms, especially if it’s within a week after COVID-19 vaccination.

Here in Ghana, may contact the Ghana Health Service for assessment and urgent attention.

This story is supported by Journalists for Human Rights under the Mobilizing Media to Fighting Covid-19 project.

www.zamireports.com/ Ghana.

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