Study: Heart Failure Patients Unvaccinated Against COVID-19 More Likely to Die From Virus

Many patients with heart failure are hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine due to the fear of myocarditis.

New research from Mount Sinai Heart has found that patients with heart failure who are unvaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 are 3 times more likely to die if they are infected with the virus compared with those fully boosted against COVID-19.

According to the authors of the study, which was published in the Journal of Cardiac Failure, this is the first research to examine COVID-19 vaccination status and the outcomes in patients with this specific cardiovascular condition, in addition to the protective effects in the high-risk patient population.

Many patients with heart failure are hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine due to the fear of myocarditis, also known as the inflammation of the heart muscle. Since it is a rare adverse effect of the COVID-19 vaccines, these new results can help patients with heart failure better understand the benefits of being fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 and the protection it offers.

“I launched this study because our heart failure patients often express fear of getting the COVID-19 vaccine after hearing reports of vaccine-related myocarditis, which would cause another cardiac setback for them. Until now, it has been difficult to explain to these patients how the cardiovascular benefits of vaccination substantially outweigh the risks of complications to them, because we didn’t have concrete evidence to show the substantial risks of being unvaccinated, as few studies have focused on this specific high-risk population and COVID-19 vaccinations,” said corresponding study author Anurhada Lala, MD, director of Heart Failure Research and an associate professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in a press release. “Having specific data showing patients with heart failure who don’t have their full vaccine series are at a much higher risk of death, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, and general hospitalization—even after accounting for factors that might be related to an individual’s decision to become vaccinated—is helpful.”

The researchers at Mount Sinai analyzed the impact of COVID-19 vaccination status in the heart failure patient population by looking at the electronic records of 7094 patients from the Mount Sinai Health System with a heart failure diagnosis who had office visits, emergency department visits, or hospitalizations between January 1, 2021 and January 24, 2022.

Out of the group, 31% were fully vaccinated with 2 doses, 14.8% were fully vaccinated and had received 1 booster, 9.1% were partially vaccinated with only 1 dose, and 45% were unvaccinated.

After comparing survival rates and numbers of admissions to the hospital/intensive care units between the groups, the researchers found that the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated patients were 3 times more likely to die from COVID-19-related illness than fully vaccinated and boosted patients. Further, the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated patients were 15% more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 infection and nearly twice as likely to be admitted to the ICU compared to fully vaccinated and boosted patients.

“The findings further emphasize that heart failure patients need to take vaccines seriously, since they have worse outcomes if infected with COVID-19, and stresses the importance of receiving the full COVID-19 vaccination dosage, especially since our previous work shows those with heart failure are 2.5 times more likely to die from the virus,” Lala said in the press release.“I have used these results to help educate reluctant patients and in many cases this has been effective in encouraging them and getting them to follow through with full vaccination. The hope is that cardiologists will use these results as a tool to help their patients and improve their chances of survival.”

REFERENCE

Heart Failure Patients Unvaccinated Against COVID-19 Are Three Times More Likely to Die From It Than Boosted Heart Failure Patients. Mount Sinai. June 9, 2022. Accessed June 13, 2022. https://www.mountsinai.org/about/newsroom/2022/heart-failure-patients-unvaccinated-against-covid-are-three-times-more-likely-to-die-from-it-than-boosted-heart-failure-patients#:~:text=Heart%20failure%20patients%20who%20are,out%20of%20Mount%20Sinai%20Heart.