Following the collapse of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin at a U.S. National Football League game last month, cardiac arrest has been in the headlines.
Mayo Clinic pediatric cardiologist Dr. Michael Ackerman explained what a cardiac arrest is.
“Sudden cardiac arrest or SCA is an electrical heart attack,” Dr. Ackerman said. “There’s a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions because we mix words like a heart attack from crushing chest pain to myocardial infarction.”
Dr. Ackerman said despite social media rumors, they are not seeing increased deaths in young athletes. He referenced a recent report that he calls “junk science.” The report said more than 1,500 athletes have died in the past year of cardiac arrest due to the COVID-19 vaccine.
He said that’s simply not true.
“We know in the United States that 75 to 100 healthy athletes from little league, junior high, varsity to the collegiate level die suddenly each year, and this has not changed over the last three years,” he said. “The 1,598 number was erroneously assigned to cases in the U.S. when, in reality, it comes from a European study focusing on a broad range of factors. The claims that deaths among the young, particularly young athletes, have rise 15 to 20 fold is simply not grounded in reality.”
Ackerman said Mayo Clinic has been investigating sudden deaths in young people closely for nearly 25 years.
“We have a really close pulse and connection with medical examiners throughout the country and the world, as we search for a cause when no cause is there to be found,” he said. “It’s safe to say our phones would be ringing off the hook if this 15-20 times fold increase was grounded in any sense of reality.”
Ackerman acknowledged there is a risk of myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart muscle in young people after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. He also said other things like viruses, including influenza can also cause myocarditis.
“One in 5,000 is the reasonable number of young male ages 15 to 25-year-old male getting vaccine-associated myocarditis from one of the miRNA- derived vaccines, mostly from the Moderna product, which is higher than the Pfizer vaccine.”
Ackerman said investigating sudden deaths in young people is complex and multi-faceted.
“I want to turn over every stone,” he said. “For some of our cases, there’s going to be a temporal relationship to having received the vaccine recently. Just like before, there may be a temporal relationship to receiving the influenza vaccine. A serious scientist should never categorically rule out the chance any or situation for it to have contributed. To say categorically zero, for me as a legitimate scientist, it would be as wrong for to say no way no how. Let’s study this, let’s investigate this let’s do the real detective work to have the real truth emerge.”
Dr. Ackerman said he and his team recently sent a research study about cardiac arrest to be peer reviewed.