Preprint study shares misleading claims about COVID-19 vaccines and cardiac arrest deaths

A preprint study authored by several known opponents of the COVID-19 vaccines claims to have found an association between an increase in COVID-19 vaccinations and an increase in cardiac arrest (when the heart suddenly stops functioning, causing loss of consciousness and breathing) deaths in King County, Washington. As of June 4, a social media post about the study received almost half a million views and 1,500 shares.

Recommendation: While conversations about this study are unlikely to arise in a clinical setting, social media posts about this study may prompt patient questions about COVID-19 vaccines and heart complications. Talking points may emphasize that heart complications following COVID-19 vaccination are extremely rare and typically mild. A COVID-19 infection is much more likely to cause heart complications than a COVID-19 vaccine, and those cases are typically more severe. A 2022 study found that people who contracted COVID-19 were seven times more likely to develop inflammation of the heart muscle than those who received the vaccine. The benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any potential risks because getting vaccinated reduces the risk of developing heart complications after COVID-19 infection. If directly debunking false claims about this study, doctors and other health care professionals may emphasize that the study has not yet been peer-reviewed, and its conclusion fails to mention that the study’s timeline coincided with an increase in COVID-19 infections, which is associated with a greater risk of cardiac deaths.