In the realm of sports, whenever an athlete collapses from sudden cardiac arrest, a trend has emerged where speculation on social media quickly attributes the incident to COVID-19 vaccinations. This trend recently gained traction with instances involving English footballer Charlie Wyke, cyclist Sonny Colbrelli, and college basketball player Bronny James, son of LeBron James.
However, according to Harald Jorstad, a Sports Cardiologist at Amsterdam UMC, these claims lack substantive evidence. Jorstad emphasizes that while timing of vaccination can be adjusted to minimize any potential impact on performance, there is no concrete support for vaccines causing cardiac issues in athletes.
These insights have been published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Collaborating with Joelle Daems, a Sports Cardiology PhD candidate at Amsterdam UMC, Jorstad conducted an exhaustive analysis of existing literature on this matter.
Their comprehensive review yielded no compelling evidence suggesting an elevated risk of sudden cardiac arrest or increased instances of myocarditis among athletes post-COVID-19 vaccination. Daems elaborates, "We meticulously examined numerous studies, including one encompassing over four million individuals conducted in Australia.
This study concluded that rates of sudden cardiac arrest and myocarditis, as a reason behind cardiac arrest, displayed no noteworthy rise subsequent to vaccination. Notably, myocarditis primarily affects young individuals, particularly males."
Vaccination and Intense Exercise Risks
While isolated cases have indicated that COVID-19 infection can trigger myocarditis, and in rarer circumstances, vaccination might induce a milder form, the studies reviewed did not indicate a heightened risk among athletes who combined vaccination with intense physical activity.
Daems adds, "Despite athletes' elevated susceptibility to myocarditis due to their relative youth, our analysis revealed no substantiated evidence linking COVID-19 vaccination and strenuous exercise to an escalated risk." Although athletes might initially hesitate to embrace COVID-19 vaccinations due to concerns about their performance, the study from Amsterdam UMC underscores that the vaccine is generally well-tolerated.
Most athletes experience only minor transient side effects. A separate study involving 127 Olympic and Paralympic athletes revealed that merely eight athletes encountered training disruption on the day of vaccination, and seven of them promptly resumed training the following day.
Notably, a slight decrease in VO2 Max was observed in one study, prompting Daems to explain, "Interestingly, one study did show a marginal reduction in VO2 Max a week after vaccination. However, the magnitude of this decline remains minute, and its clinical significance appears dubious.
Furthermore, this effect could be transient." Jorstad concludes, "This collective body of evidence assures athletes that concerns are unfounded. For those contemplating vaccination during the upcoming winter season, it's prudent to consider timing outside of crucial competition periods."