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Oilers' Archibald's risk of myocarditis would have been '10,000-fold' lower from COVID-19 vaccine: cardiologist


As revelations emerge about the Edmonton Oilers' only player still unvaccinated against COVID-19 developing myocarditis, an Edmonton cardiologist wants you to know your risk of dealing with the same heart condition. 

On Sunday, Oilers head coach Dave Tippett told reporters that it's believed forward Josh Archibald, 28, developed myocarditis because of an asymptomatic case of COVID-19 that initially went undetected over the summer.

Archibald joins his teammate Alex Stalock on the injured reserve, who is also sidelined indefinitely with myocarditis after a case of COVID-19.

Myocarditis is a term that refers to inflammation of the heart muscle.

According to Dr. Ian Paterson, a cardiologist with the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, the most common cause of the condition is a virus like COVID-19.

"Myocarditis related to COVID, related to the virus itself, is said to effect approximately five to 15 per cent of people who have been sick with the virus," Dr. Paterson told CTV News Edmonton on Monday.

The Edmonton cardiologist said, while cases of myocarditis have been linked to COVID-19 vaccines, those instances are much more rare than ones linked to COVID-19 itself.

"It's about a one in 100,000 risk of developing myocarditis from the vaccine versus about 10 per cent from the virus."

That's a roughly 0.001 per cent chance of developing the condition because of the COVID-19 vaccine.

"That's a 10,000 fold greater risk of getting myocarditis from the virus, we think, than from the vaccine," said Dr. Paterson. "So absolutely we think that the vaccine will protect people from the virus and getting myocarditis from the virus."

Dr. Paterson said while being vaccinated against COVID-19 greatly reduces the risk of getting the disease, experts don't yet know if myocarditis is less likely to occur from breakthrough infections of COVID-19.

Last week, the Ontario government recommended people between the ages of 18 and 24 receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine instead of Moderna because of an observed increase of cases of myocarditis.

They said the move was "out of an abundance of caution."

While the prognosis for people with COVID-19-related myocarditis is generally good, Dr. Paterson said it's recommended that physical sports be suspended for three to six months for people with the heart condition.

"Myocarditis related to virus, including COVID, we think are self-limited, meaning that people do expect a complete recovery of their heart," he said. "There is, however, concerns about athletes returning to play after they've had myocarditis."

"It's an injury to the heart," he said. "It's causing some inflammation of the heart muscle and there's a risk that if you're stimulating the body and, you know, exercising and having a lot of adrenaline pumping through you, that it could irritate the heart."  

On Sunday, Tippett said Archibald is still receiving multiple medical tests and there's no timeline for his return.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Ryan Harding Top Stories

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