Heart Failure Patients Unvaccinated Against COVID-19 Are Three Times More Likely to Die From It Than Boosted Heart Failure Patients
Mount Sinai study shows dramatic protective effects of vaccination in this high-risk population, which often demonstrates vaccine hesitancy
Heart failure patients who are unvaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, are three times more likely to die if infected with the virus compared to fully boosted heart failure patients, according to new research out of Mount Sinai Heart. The study, published June 9 in the Journal of Cardiac Failure, is the first to look at COVID-19 vaccination status and outcomes in patients with this cardiovascular condition, and shows how dramatic the protective effects are in this high-risk patient population.
The research is important since many heart failure patients are hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine due to fear of myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle. This condition is a rare side effect of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines but a more common complication of COVID-19 infection. The results of this work can help heart failure patients 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,” says corresponding 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. “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.”
Mount Sinai researchers conducted a retrospective study to analyze the impact of COVID-19 vaccination status in the heart failure patient population. They looked at electronic records of 7,094 patients from the Mount Sinai Health System with a heart failure diagnosis (not including heart transplant and left ventricular assist device patients) who had office visits, emergency department visits, or hospitalizations between January 1, 2021, and January 24, 2022.
Of that group, 2,200 (31 percent) were fully vaccinated with two doses, 1,053 (14.8 percent) were fully vaccinated and had also received one booster – the recommended guidance from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at that time; 645 (9.1 percent) were partially vaccinated with only one dose, and 3,196 (45 percent) were unvaccinated. That unvaccinated proportion in this study is approximately double the proportion of unvaccinated adults in the general New York City population.
Researchers compared survival rates and numbers of admissions to the hospital and intensive care units between the groups, looking at both all-cause mortality and mortality associated with concurrent, documented SARS-CoV-2 infection. They found the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated patients were three times more likely to die from COVID-19-related illness than fully vaccinated and boosted patients. The study goes on to show that unvaccinated and partially vaccinated patients were 15 percent more likely to be hospitalized if infected with the virus and nearly twice as likely to be admitted to the ICU when 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,” Dr. Lala adds. “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.”
Mount Sinai Heart is one of the nation’s top 6 hospitals in Cardiology/Heart Surgery
Mount Sinai Heart is among the top 6 in the nation for cardiology and cardiac surgery according U.S. News & World Report. Newsweek’s “The World’s Best Specialized Hospitals” ranks Mount Sinai Heart as No. 1 in New York and No. 4 globally.
It is part of Mount Sinai Health System, which is New York City's largest academic medical system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. We advance medicine and health through unrivaled education and translational research and discovery to deliver care that is the safest, highest-quality, most accessible and equitable, and the best value of any health system in the nation. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 free-standing joint-venture centers; more than 410 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, and Long Island; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked in U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of the top 20 U.S. hospitals and among the top in the nation by specialty: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Urology, and Rehabilitation. For more information, visit https://www.mountsinai.org or find Mount Sinai on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
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Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, over 400 outpatient practices, nearly 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time — discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.
Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. We are consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals, receiving high "Honor Roll" status, and are highly ranked: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Rehabilitation, and Urology. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 12 in Ophthalmology. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” ranks Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital among the country’s best in several pediatric specialties. The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: It is consistently ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report's "Best Medical Schools," aligned with a U.S. News & World Report "Honor Roll" Hospital, and top 20 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding and top 5 in the nation for numerous basic and clinical research areas. Newsweek’s “The World’s Best Smart Hospitals” ranks The Mount Sinai Hospital as No. 1 in New York and in the top five globally, and Mount Sinai Morningside in the top 20 globally.