Cardiac complications following mRNA COVID-19 vaccines: A systematic review of case reports and case series

Asra Fazlollahi, Mahdi Zahmatyar, Maryam Noori, Seyed Aria Nejadghaderi, Mark J.M. Sullman, Reza Shekarriz-Foumani, Ali Asghar Kolahi, Kuljit Singh, Saeid Safiri

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


There have been several local and systemic adverse events associated with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Pericarditis, myocarditis and myocardial infarction are examples of cardiac complications related to these vaccines. In this article, we conducted a systematic review of case reports and case series to identify the clinical profile, investigations, and management of reported cardiac complications post-mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. We systematically searched PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar, as well as the medRxiv preprint server, with terms including: ‘SARS-CoV-2’, ‘COVID-19’, ‘messenger RNA vaccine*’, ‘mRNA-1273 vaccine’, ‘BNT162 vaccine’, ‘myocarditis’, ‘pericarditis’, ‘stroke’ and ‘Myocardial Ischemia’ up to 25 September 2021. Studies were excluded if they were not case reports or case series, or reported cases from non-mRNA vaccines. Case reports and case series were included that investigated the potential cardiac complications associated with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. The JBI checklist was used to assess quality and data synthesis was conducted using a qualitative methodology called narrative synthesis. Sixty-nine studies, including 43 case reports and 26 case series, were included. Myocarditis/myopericarditis and pericarditis were the most common adverse events among the 243 reported cardiac complications, post mRNA COVID-19 vaccination. Males with a median age of 21 years had the highest frequency of myocarditis. Almost three quarters (74.4%) of cases with myocarditis had received the BNT162b2 vaccine and 87.7% had received the second dose of the vaccine. Chest pain (96.1%) and fever (38.2%) were the most common presentations. CK-MB, troponin, and NT-proBNP were elevated in 100%, 99.5% and 78.3% of subjects, respectively. ST-segment abnormality was the most common electrocardiogram feature. Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, which is the gold-standard approach for diagnosing myocarditis, was abnormal in all patients diagnosed with myocarditis. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs were the most prescribed medication for the management of myocarditis. Apart from inflammatory conditions, some rare cases of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, myocardial infarction, myocardial infarction with non-obstructive coronary arteries, and isolated tachycardia were also reported following immunisation with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. We acknowledge that only reviewing case reports and case series studies is one potential limitation of our study. We found that myocarditis was the most commonly reported adverse cardiac event associated with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, which presented as chest pain with a rise in cardiac biomarkers. Further large-scale observational studies are recommended.

Original languageEnglish
JournalReviews in Medical Virology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • cardiac complications
  • COVID-19
  • myocardial infarction
  • myocarditis
  • pericarditis
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • systematic review


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