There has been a rising spate of heart attacks in India, particularly post Covid-19 pandemic. While some blame vaccines for triggering heart issues, health experts have allayed such fears, citing no evidence to prove that vaccines can cause heart attacks.
According to the Global Burden of Disease, nearly a quarter (24.8 per cent) of all deaths in India is due to cardiovascular diseases (CVD).
Recent reports showed many young celebrities, artistes, athletes, sportspersons -- who usually remain fit and have no history of CVD -- face heart attacks, while some also succumbed to it.
"The increase in heart attacks is best explained by the fact that almost everyone has had Covid, some people multiple times," Dr Anurag Agrawal, Dean, Biosciences and Health Research, Trivedi School of Biosciences, Ashoka University, told IANS.
"The risk of cardiovascular complications including heart attacks, is increased in individuals who have acute Covid 19," added Dr Vivekanand Jha, Executive Director, George Institute India.
Several studies have added evidence that Covid infection is behind the rising heart attacks. Research has shown that Covid has the potential to unmask silent cardiac symptoms among people with previously undiagnosed heart disease.
A study by the British Heart Foundation has found that Covid can cause heart and kidney inflammation along with systemic body inflammation.
Another study of nearly 160,000 people published in Cardiovascular Research, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology, early this year showed that Covid is associated with higher risks of cardiovascular disease and death in the short-and long-term. Compared to uninfected individuals, the likelihood of Covid patients dying was up to 81 times higher in the first three weeks of infection and remained five times higher up to 18 months later.
Even a mild case of Covid can increase a person's risk of cardiovascular problems for at least a year after diagnosis, according to a study published in the journal Nature Medicine, last year.
Researchers found that rates of many conditions, such as heart failure and stroke, were substantially higher in people who had recovered from Covid than in similar people who hadn't had the disease.
However, some also flagged concerns with Covid vaccines. According to the CDC, evidence from multiple monitoring systems in the US and around the globe support a causal association between mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (i.e., Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech) and myocarditis and pericarditis.
Media reports have also cited that the Oxford-AstraZeneca's jab, administered in India as Covishield, is linked with increasing clotting tendency leading to occlusion of arteries or veins.
Recently, eminent British-Indian Cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra said that it was even "worse" in terms of cardiovascular effects, heart attacks and strokes.
"The rise in heart attacks is not directly linked with the Covid vaccine but with covid infection mainly as there are lots of things that Covid can do with the cardiovascular system. There are reports of increased blood stickiness too in Covid infected people," Dr Amit Prasad, Associate Professor, School of Biosciences and Bioengineering, IIT Mandi, told IANS.
"Even before vaccination started, such a link between Covid and an increase in future heart attacks could be seen. This observation is from 2020 data and thus clearly shows that the risk of increase in heart attacks started before vaccination started," added Agrawal.
Dr. Vivekanand Jha, Executive Director, George Institute India said: "There is no evidence to suggest that heart attacks are linked to Covid vaccines."
"The risk of cardiovascular complications including heart attacks, is increased in individuals who have acute Covid 19."
Meanwhile, taking note of the rising heart attacks, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said earlier this week that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has started a research on the sudden rise in cardiac events after Covid-19. The results are expected in the next two months.