Triangle hospitals see a handful of potential heart inflammation cases in COVID-19 vaccine recipients


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Wednesday, a CDC advisory committee will meet to discuss reports of more than 300 cases of heart inflammation in people who’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Manesh Patel, Chief Cardiologist at Duke explained the condition.

“Myocarditis is an inflammation around the heart that we know occurs with lots of things: toxins infections, we’ve seen myocarditis after influenza,” Patel said.

Doctors have also seen myocarditis in people who have been infected with COVID-19, and in rare cases following the vaccine.

Patel says the hospital has seen “less than a handful,” of myocarditis cases in vaccine recipients.

“Probably four or five is what we’ve heard,” he said. “To put that into perspective, at one point we had several hundred people who had COVID-19 in our area in the hospital, of that, many people with myocardial or heart dysfunction from the infection itself.”

Of the potentially vaccine-related cases at Duke, he says most people did not have symptoms, rather doctors noticed inflammation while doing tests for other reasons.

Some people do have symptoms.

Dr. Zachary Willis, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at UNC, described some symptoms.

“Chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations – like feeling like your heart is fluttering, dizziness things like that,” Willis said.

He recommends vaccine recipients and their parents be aware of potential symptoms and get medical attention if they have them.

“Patients have responded quite promptly to common anti-inflammatory medications,” Willis said.

Both doctors emphasized that the condition following vaccination is extremely rare. More than 177 million people in the United States have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I would continue to recommend it for any patient who is eligible to receive it,” Willis said of the vaccine.

Patel added, “Your fears should not be the vaccine as much as your fear should be getting COVID.”

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