COVID-19 vaccines do not cause heart attacks.

It seems that every time a young athlete suffers from cardiac arrest, COVID-19 vaccine skeptics flood social media with posts affirming the myth that the COVID-19 vaccine caused the heart attack. 

When Damar Hamlin experienced a heart attack last year during a football gameconservative vaccine skeptic Charlie Kirk posted on X, “This is a tragic and all too familiar sight right now: Athletes dropping suddenly.”

When Bronny James had a cardiac arrest on July 24, Elon Musk falsely posted on X, “We cannot ascribe everything to the vaccine, but, by the same token, we cannot ascribe anything. Myocarditis is a known side-effect. The only question is whether it is rare or common.”

As it turns out, neither athlete’s cardiac incident was vaccine-related. Hamlin’s heart attack was a result of commotio cordis, which is when a cardiac arrest occurs from impact to the chest.  James’s heart attack was most likely caused by the congenital heart defect that doctors found after his cardiac arrest. 

There is no evidence that getting the COVID-19 vaccine leads to someone experiencing a cardiac arrest. Developing myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) or pericarditis (inflammation of the heart lining) are rare side effects associated with the COVID-19 vaccine. 

It is important to note that individuals are more likely to develop myocarditis from getting infected with COVID-19 than from receiving the vaccine. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, developing myocarditis as a result of getting the COVID-19 vaccine “affects fewer than 20 people per 1,000,000 [1 million] COVID-19 vaccinations.” The complication rate from contracting COVID-19 is far greater.

According to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Clinical Considerations: Myocarditis and Pericarditis after Receipt of COVID-19 Vaccines Among Adolescents and Young Adults: “Cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have rarely been observed after COVID-19 vaccination in the United States and evidence from multiple vaccine safety monitoring systems in the United States and around the globe supports a causal association between mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (i.e., Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech) and myocarditis and pericarditis.”

Elizabeth Paratz, cardiologist and lead author of a research article on the subject, ​​found in her study that there was no link between receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and experiencing cardiac arrest. In addition, her study found no relationship between getting the COVID-19 vaccine and developing myocarditis that results in cardiac arrest.  

Paratz told the AmNews that “sudden cardiac arrest is a tragic condition that has always existed. We have some papers about it going back decades, so it’s not a new entity. It’s a tragic thing. When we look at the rates throughout COVID and COVID vaccination, we don’t see any significant uptick…that would suggest that vaccinations are not driving huge amounts of sudden deaths, which is very reassuring.”

Paratz’s study, which looked at more than 4 million people, took place in Victoria, Australia, which she says is a “bit of a unique little petri dish” because the state had low COVID-19 rates and high vaccination rates. Paratz looked at population-level vaccination data and examined whether there was an increase or change in the number of cardiac arrests among those who got vaccinated, which there was not. 

Joelle Daems, a medical doctor and a current PhD candidate in the Department of Sport Cardiology at the Amsterdam University Medical Centres, co-wrote an article examining the potential impact of COVID-19 vaccination on athletes finding that there was no evidence to support the claim that the COVID-19 vaccine causes cardiac arrest in young athletes. 

Despite the mounting evidence that there is no causal relationship between getting the COVID-19 vaccine and having a heart attack, misinformation regarding this myth still circulates. 

Daems explained that when many people get vaccinated, it is inevitable that some people will receive that vaccine shortly before experiencing adverse events such as suddenly having a heart attack. While these events may seem connected, this may not be the case.

“The problem is people die every day of other causes. Also, if they don’t get vaccinated. And what happens if you start vaccinating a very large group of people? These events might coincide in the same person without there being any causal relation.”

As to why this myth continues to spread, Daems told the AmNews, “I think it scares people that the people who are very fit and very healthy can have such a serious adverse event. I think it’s harder to grasp that a healthy and fit person can have a serious adverse event like cardiac arrest without seeming ill.”

For those who have a previous history of heart conditions, receiving the COVID-19 vaccine could be worrisome, even knowing that there is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine leads to cardiac arrest, but they are at far more risk for complications if they contract COVID-19 than from getting vaccinated. According to the CDC, “Having heart conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, and possibly high blood pressure (hypertension) can make you more likely to get very sick from COVID-19.” 

It’s important to get the COVID-19 vaccine and timely boosters to maintain heart health, and to protect everyone against the COVID-19 infection. For additional resources about COVID-19, visit COVID-19 testing, masks, and vaccination resources can also be accessed on the AmNews COVID-19 page:

Factcheck: False—COVID-19 vaccine causes cardiac arrest