Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe for Cardiac Patients?

Medically Reviewed on 1/5/2022
Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe for Cardiac Patients
Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is both safe and recommended for cardiac patients, since they are more likely to develop complications from the infection

While people with certain underlying health conditions should discuss their condition with a doctor before getting a COVID-19 vaccine, the list does not include cardiac conditions. Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is both safe and recommended for cardiac patients, since they are more likely to develop complications from the infection.

People with hypertension, coronary artery disease, or cardiac failure are at higher risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19, leading to a higher rate of hospitalization and deaths. This is linked to the fact that people with underlying heart conditions have abnormally high amounts of a receptor that helps bind the virus to the outer cell surfaces of the lungs and heart.

COVID-19 vaccines do not contain a complete virus. Instead, they contain viral proteins that teach the immune system to recognize COVID-19 and fight it off. The body recognizes the virus and initiates an immune response against it, meaning that it can fight the virus faster and more effectively if exposed to it in the future.

Are cardiac patients at higher risk for vaccine side effects?

Cardiac patients may develop side effects from COVID-19 vaccines. However, they are not at risk for developing side effects than other people. The most common vaccine side effects include: 

  • Pain and swelling at the site of the injection 
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches 
  • Nausea
  • Symptoms generally do not last more than 2 days and are signs that the body is building immunity, although they may not appear in everyone.

Allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines are rare but easy to treat. These are seen in response to some components of the vaccine and have nothing to do with the viral proteins themselves.

Can I still get COVID-19 even after getting the vaccine?

While some people have gotten COVID-19 even after being vaccinated (also known as breakthrough infection), this is very rare. 

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are 90% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection after two doses, whereas they are only 80% effective after the first dose. The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is approximately 67% effective at preventing illness. 

People vaccinated according to the recommended schedule with the authorized COVID-19 vaccines must wait for 2 more weeks to have a full immune response and be considered fully vaccinated.

The number of breakthrough cases was higher among people who:

  • Received only 1 dose out of the 2 scheduled doses
  • Got exposed to the virus within 2 weeks of their last dose 
  • Have underlying immunodeficiency conditions (cancer, chemotherapy, immunosuppressive medications, etc.)

As COVID-19 infections are still rampant, wearing masks is recommended even for fully vaccinated people to prevent the virus from spreading.

Can I develop any heart problems after a COVID-19 vaccine shot?

Inflammation of heart muscle (myocarditis) and inflammation of the surrounding sac (pericarditis) can occur after a vaccination, which can be attributed to the immune response generated by the vaccine.

Data has shown a small increase in cases of myocarditis and pericarditis after receiving the Pfizer and Moderna two-dose COVID-19 vaccination, especially in young adults. In the great majority of cases, symptoms were mild and resolved on their own, with a very low risk of complications. 

The dangers of COVID-19 infection outweigh the side effects of the vaccine. However, if you develop the following symptoms in the days following COVID-19 vaccination, seek medical help as soon as possible:

Medically Reviewed on 1/5/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with Certain Medical Conditions.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Myocarditis and Pericarditis After mRNA COVID-19 Vaccination.