COVID vaccine

Heart Problems in Teens After COVID Vaccine? Myocarditis Explained

Health officials say reported cases appear to be mild and typically begin within four days after vaccination

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is investigating after a small number of teens and young adults reported having heart problems after being vaccinated for COVID-19.

A CDC safety committee released an advisory last week to alert doctors of “myocarditis” among younger vaccine recipients after a “relatively few” cases of the unusual heart symptom surfaced.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday during a press briefing that President Joe Biden has been informed of the reported cases and that the administration will continue to advise young people to get vaccinated.

“Our health and medical experts still continue to convey that it is the right step for 12- to 15-year-olds to get vaccinated, that these are limited cases, and that, obviously, the risks of contracting COVID are certainly significant even for people of that age,” Psaki said.

Health officials say the reported cases appear to be mild and typically begin within four days after the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.               

The CDC has yet to determine if the vaccines were the cause of the reported heart condition.

“What’s important to know and to recognize is that the rates that we’re seeing of myocarditis are no higher than what we would experience normally,” Dr. Ted O’Connell told NBC San Diego. “So, we don’t know if it’s associated with the vaccine or not.”

What is myocarditis?

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle that minimizes its ability to pump blood normally and can cause increased or abnormal heart rhythms.

Medical experts say the condition is usually caused by viral infections but can also be the body’s reaction to a drug.

What are symptoms of myocarditis?

In mild cases of myocarditis, common symptoms include chest pain and shortness of breath.

In more serious cases, symptoms can include rapid or abnormal heart rhythms, shortness of breath during rest or physical activity, fatigue, and fluid retention with the swelling of limbs.

Medical experts at Mayo Clinic say myocarditis can be fatal if not treated immediately. Heart failure, heart attack, stroke, and sudden cardiac death can occur in severe cases.

What are signs of myocarditis in children?

When children develop myocarditis, some signs and symptoms can include fever, fainting, difficulty in breathing, rapid breathing, and rapid or abnormal heart rhythms.

Health experts urge both children and adults who may be experiencing any of these symptoms to immediately seek medical attention.

How can myocarditis be treated?

In many cases of myocarditis, the inflamed heart condition can improve on its own.

Mayo Clinic doctors say treatment focuses on the cause of the condition and symptoms, such as heart failure and shortness of breath.

Doctors recommend getting a lot of rest and taking medication to help fight off the infection. Experts say that although antiviral medications are available, they are not proven effective in treatment for most cases of the heart condition.

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