No evidence of cardiac arrest in athletes linked to the COVID vaccine

VERIFY analyzed the data and found that many of the deaths listed were not among athletes or from cardiac arrest. There is little evidence that many have even been vaccinated.

NFL safety Damar Hamlin is in critical condition after suffering cardiac arrest during a game Monday, January 2, spurring unsubstantiated claims that his medical emergency is linked to the COVID-19 vaccine could.

Several people on Twitter shared a graph allegedly showing 1,616 cardiac arrests in athletes since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with 1,114 athletes dying after the COVID-19 vaccination.

The graphic is from an online article which claims to list each of the athletes who suffered cardiac arrest or other “serious problems” after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

“While it’s possible this is happening to people who haven’t received a COVID vaccine, the sheer numbers clearly point to the only obvious cause,” the article reads.


Does the online chart represent the athlete deaths linked to the COVID-19 vaccine?



This is misleading.

The graph and associated online data are misleading. There is no evidence linking athlete cardiac arrests and subsequent deaths to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Some of the included deaths do not fit the site’s own definition of an athlete, while others have been attributed to factors such as cancer or heat stroke – not cardiac arrest or the COVID-19 vaccine.


People who shared the graph online claim it shows a comparison between athlete collapses, deaths and the COVID-19 vaccine, but there are several reasons the data is flawed.

The graphic uses data from a post on operated by anonymous authors who claim to be “truth seekers”. This post lists incidents the site claims athletes have collapsed or died of heart problems or other serious medical problems related to the COVID-19 vaccine and links to news articles about individual cases.

The list is not based on scientific research or public health data. Instead, it is a manually compiled list of media reports that the author claims to have found from “research” and reader submissions.

In many of the reports, there was no indication whether any person on the list received the COVID-19 vaccine. The list follows news reports of the deaths, which often lack information on vaccination status.

Additionally, the website’s definition of “athlete” is not a professional athlete, or even a college or high school athlete. Instead, the website defines an athlete as someone who is “relatively fit and healthy and actively involved in sports, rather than an ‘unfit couch potato’.”

Even with this broad definition, many of the individuals listed do not meet the site’s criteria for an athlete. Some of the deaths involved seniors in their 80s or people who had a long-term illness.

One example is MLB legend Hank Aaron, who died of natural causes in January 2021 at the age of 86. While the baseball star did receive the COVID-19 vaccine A few weeks earlier, the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office said there was no indication it contributed to his death.

Some of those on the list also died from COVID-19 itself, not the vaccine. Azorean “Zo” Tatum, a 16-year-old high school football player in Tennessee on the list, died of the virus at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in August 2021. VERIFY partner broadcaster ABC24 reports.

Some of the others listed died of cancer or other causes such as heat stroke, not cardiac arrest or other medical problems that could be linked to the vaccine.

Here are some examples:

Is there a connection between cardiac death and the COVID-19 vaccination?

The article and social media posts suggest that it’s unusual for athletes, including many young people, to experience cardiac arrest or die while playing sport.

However, this is not a new phenomenon and occurred well before the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines.

More from VERIFY: No, Sudden Adult Death Syndrome is not related to vaccines

A 2016 study published by the National Library of Medicine found that sudden cardiac death (SCD) is the leading medical cause of sudden death in athletes. Based on estimates at the time, the incident rate was approximately 1 in 40,000 to 1 in 80,000 athletes per year.

“For decades, athletes have been collapsing on the field — long before COVID even existed and definitely long before the COVID vaccine,” said Payal Kohli, MD, cardiologist and professor of medicine. said VERIFY. “So this background rate of cardiac arrest occurring in athletes that can be attributed to the COVID vaccine really connects two dots that are completely unrelated.”

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), in particular Sudden Arrhythmic Death (SAD)“occurs at a significant background rate in the general population, even in children and adolescents,” said Jeffrey Morris, Ph.D., director of biostatistics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.

In the United States, there are approximately 1,000 cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest every day. according to estimates by the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation.

myocarditisor inflammation of the heart wall, can occur in rare cases after vaccination. In severe cases, it can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure or death, says the American Heart Association.

However, medical experts say the risk of myocarditis in people infected with the coronavirus is far higher than in those who receive the vaccine.

Although cases of myocarditis due to COVID-19 infection and the vaccine have been reported, a study published in August 2022 found that the risk of myocarditis was more than seven times higher in people infected with the coronavirus compared to vaccinated people.

“I’m much more concerned about the infection itself, which is causing you to have some sort of arrhythmia or collapse, especially during competitive sports, than I am about the vaccine,” Kohli said.

While athletes sometimes experience sudden cardiac arrest, there is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine has increased the likelihood of it.

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Laura Coffey

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