Vaccines not blamed for new cardiovascular-kidney-metabolic syndrome | Fact check

The claim: American Heart Association announced 90% of vaccinated population now has ‘deadly heart defects’

A May 18 Instagram post (direct link, archive link) includes an image that ties vaccines to heart problems.

“American Heart Association: 90% of Vaxxed Population Now Have Deadly Heart Defects,” reads the text on the image, which is a screenshot of a May 17 article from The People’s Voice.

Another version of the claim spread widely on X, formerly Twitter.

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Our rating: False

This claim mischaracterizes a study published in May that found that almost 90% of American adults meet the criteria for cardiovascular-kidney-metabolic syndrome, a condition first defined by the American Heart Association in 2023. The organization did not make any announcement tying the findings to vaccines, and COVID-19 vaccines hadn't yet been released during the time period examined by the study. The claim stems from a website that routinely publishes misinformation.

Study is 'unrelated to vaccines of any kind'

The social media posts “make connections that cannot be attributed to the American Heart Association,” said spokesperson Suzanne Grant.

Almost 90% of American adults met the criteria for a condition called cardiovascular-kidney-metabolic syndrome in a May study by Harvard Medical School researchers published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The Harvard study uses the American Heart Association's definition of the condition that was announced in October 2023. Cardiovascular-kidney-metabolic syndrome is the overlap of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity, according to the organization. The study noted people of older age, men and Black adults were at increased risk for advanced stages of the condition.

Fact check: No evidence COVID-19 vaccine 'shuts off' the heart, contrary to anti-Kelce post

The post connects the study to the COVID-19 vaccine with its reference to the "vaxxed population," but this is wrong on multiple fronts.

For one, the study predates the COVID-19 vaccines. The last survey cycle for this study ended in March 2020 – months before the vaccine became available.

And the study did not say vaccination status of any kind played a role, because vaccines weren't part of the research.

“Our research did not deal at all with vaccines and is unrelated to vaccines of any kind,” said Dr. Muthiah Vaduganathan, a Harvard Medical School cardiologist involved in the study.

Heart disease is the number 1 killer in the United States in 2024. The American Heart Association finds that intermittent fasting increases chances of death from cardiovascular disease.
Heart disease is the number 1 killer in the United States in 2024. The American Heart Association finds that intermittent fasting increases chances of death from cardiovascular disease.

Similarly, neither the American Heart Association's announcement nor other statements the organization published about the condition mention vaccines. Rather, it said the condition is a “consequence of the historically high prevalence of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in both adults and youth.”

The association has said the COVID-19 vaccine could have rare side effects including heart inflammation and blood clots. It added, however, that the virus itself could also cause such health issues and that the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the potential risks.

USA TODAY has debunked an array of false claims from The People’s Voice about vaccines, including that a billion people have died since the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, that the World Health Organization declared “mass vaccination” is required to combat climate change and that the WHO admitted fully vaccinated mothers are giving birth to babies with heart defects.

USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the post for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Cardiovascular research findings unrelated to vaccines | Fact check