Are sudden cardiac deaths linked to Covid vaccine?

Dr Rajeev adds that more attention should rather be paid to the fact that people who smoke, use drugs and drink heavily are at a higher risk of sudden death.
Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo)
Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo)

KOCHI: Theories linking sudden cardiac deaths to COVID-19 vaccines have been doing the rounds for quite some time now. Now, a poster claiming that vaccinated people aged between 40 and 60 are more vulnerable to death due to the thickening of arteries and blood clots is circulating on social media.

It’s bunkum, according to experts.“These are hoax messages that get forwarded every time a young person dies,” says Dr Rajeev Jayadevan, chairman of the Kerala chapter of the Indian Medical Association’s research cell.“A 2011 study in Kerala showed that the risk of cardiac death occurring in young men between the ages of 35 to 45 was 1 out of 1,700 per year. It means sudden deaths have always been occurring among youngsters. However, social media was not aware of that.”

He observes that it has become “a trend on social media” to link all sudden cardiac deaths to COVID-19 vaccination. “There has been a lot of fear-mongering over the past two years. On the contrary, a study by the Indian Council of Medical Research has found that people who have been vaccinated are less likely to suffer sudden death,” he notes.

Dr Rajeev adds that more attention should be paid to the fact that people who smoke, use drugs and drink heavily are at a higher risk of sudden death. He also cautions people who were severely affected by Covid 19 should be wary of heavy workouts, as it can increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.

Former IMA president Dr Sulphi Noohu based in Thiruvananthapuram concurs, adding that there is no significant rise in the number of sudden cardiac deaths among people who took Covid vaccinations.“The number of deaths before and after Covid remains the same,” he says. “Thus, it is baseless to say that the vaccine causes sudden deaths.”

Dr Sulphi believes the social media insinuations are part of worldwide “propaganda against vaccines”. “Whenever a vaccine is introduced, a section of society will be against it, misleading people with social media posts, and forwarded messages” he adds.

Dr Sandeep R, an interventional cardiologist at Aster Cardiac Sciences in Kochi, echoes similar views. He highlights that a study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research concluded that Covid vaccination “did not increase the risk of unexplained sudden deaths among youngsters”.

“There is no proof to the contrary,” he adds. “That said, severe Covid infection in the past is a risk factor. Then, family history and unhealthy lifestyle also increase the likelihood of unexplained sudden deaths.”

D-dimer test

An alarmist poster that’s currently circulating on social media urges people who have taken Covid vaccine shots to take D-Dimer tests, which checks for clotting risks.  Dr George Koshy, former head of cardiology at Government Medical College Thiruvananthapuram, says that not every vaccinated person needs to do the test, unless advised by a specialist. “No link has been established between vaccination and high D-dimer count,” he says. Dr George adds that, initially, some doctors gave blood-thinning medication to patients who took D-dimer tests. “Such medications need to be taken only if a specialist prescribes them. Unnecessarily taking blood-thinning tablets can cause problems such as internal bleeding,” he cautions.

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The New Indian Express