Israeli MRI study finds heart damage caused by COVID-19 vaccine is rare and mild

A study conducted by Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, using a step-by-step scanning technology to examine patients with symptoms of a heart muscle condition after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, found that the damage was rare and mild and expected to heal.

The study used cardiac magnetic resonance imaging on patients diagnosed with myocarditis, a weakness of the heart muscles that was found in a small number of patients after they were vaccinated.

In recent months, an association has been observed between coronavirus vaccines using mRNA technology and very rare cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining surrounding the heart).

Among patients diagnosed with clinical myocarditis after vaccination, CMR imaging findings were mild and consistent with ‘classic myocarditis,’The researchers concluded the study, which was Posted last week In the European Journal of Cardiovascular Imaging.

“The clinical course was short-lived and the results were favorable,” they wrote.

Ashraf Hamdan, head of the hospital’s cardiac imaging department and one of the paper’s authors, said the study was the largest to date in the world using CMR to examine damage to heart muscle tissue from vaccines.

“The study showed that this is a rare phenomenon characterized by slight damage to the heart muscle, and therefore it is not expected to affect the health of patients in the long term,” Hamdan said in a statement to the hospital.

The researchers scanned 15 out of 54 patients diagnosed with myocarditis 42 days after they received their first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech. Of the fifteen – all men – ten also took a second dose. The search was performed between Dec 20, 2020 and may be 24, 2021, and examinations were performed between three and 130 days after diagnosis.

The most common complaint among patients was chest pain that passed. All the patients survived and were eventually discharged from the hospital.

Medical team members work in the coronavirus ward at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, October 4, 2020 (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Related paper by Clalit, the largest healthcare provider in Israel, along with Beilinson, Posted a month ago in The New England Journal of Medicine, examined data on 2.5 million Israelis who had been vaccinated, 94 percent of whom received two doses of the vaccine.

It found that cases of such inflammation occurred in 54 people (51 men and three women) or 2.13 out of every 100,000 vaccinations (about 2,000 percentage points). Of these, 98% of cases were mild (76%) to moderate (22%) and caused no harm to cardiac function. The study found that 1 in 2.5 million people experienced a serious condition requiring hospitalization, and went on to recover.

When it does occur, the carditis side effect is particularly noted in younger males, after the second dose. The new study proves this, with 69% of cases occurring after the second shot, mostly in males and mostly in the 16-29-year-old (case prevalence was 10.7 per 100,000).

US health officials are looking for data from Israel to help highlight the safety of Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19-boosted shots in young adults, and the risk of developing myocarditis.

Chief Medical Adviser to the United States Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease expert, to Reuters Last month, the main unanswered question was “Safety data for mRNA in young adults versus myocarditis.”

“The Israelis will have this data relatively soon because they have been vaccinating everyone in the country I think since the age of 12, including their military recruits,” Fauci said. He added that the data could “help address the gap in safety information about mRNA vaccines,” according to the report.

Israel has made vaccination a central pillar in its efforts to reduce HIV infections.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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