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In February 2022, a supposed screenshot of a tweet from ITV News about an alleged study which found that people who vigorously shake their duvets are at an increased risk of heart attacks was widely spread on social media:
One indication that this picture was digitally altered can be seen in the heading of the alleged ITV News article. On the top right, you can see what appears to be the word "Martin." The ITV News website lists various categories in its headers, such as the displayed "top stories," "your area," and a "topics" menu, but they don't have a "Martin" category. This is most likely a watermark for the person who created this meme:
This tweet also doesn't appear on ITV News' timeline, nor does this article appear on its website. A spokesperson for the news network told Reuters: "We are aware of a fabricated article currently being circulated online as an ITV News website story. ITV News takes the provision of accurate high-quality news very seriously and as such we are investigating the source of this false story."
This doctored image was widely shared along with messages expressing opposition to COVID-19 vaccines. These posts falsely argued that the media was attempting to disguise an increased risk of heart attacks from the COVID-19 vaccine by publishing a wave of articles blaming other factors (such as rigorously shaking a duvet cover) for heart attacks. For example, one person wrote: "It seems that fluffing bedspreads can lead to death ... We didn't see these warnings before the V*A*X *" Another person added: "Basically the narrative is that anything nowadays can trigger a fuckin heart attack ... What they're doing is coming out with all sorts of excuses ready so that whenever u see people dropping like flies from these death jabs they'll blame it on shaking a duvet or having sex etc"
There are two major flaws with this argument.
First, articles and studies about heart attack risk are not unique to the pandemic. Here's a sampling of articles published prior to the pandemic claiming that everything from angry exercising to skipping breakfast to height could increase the chance of a heart attack.
More importantly, studies have found that there is a higher risk of heart attacks from COVID-19 itself than there is from the vaccine.
About 20-30% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 show heart problems. These patients tend to have more severe symptoms and worse health outcomes. Their heart issues can be due to direct damage from the virus, resulting in heart inflammation, or the indirect effect of inflammatory proteins (known as cytokines) released in the bloodstream. Heart muscle inflammation (myocarditis) commonly manifests as heart failure or through uneven heartbeat (arrhythmia). Sudden death in COVID-19 patients caused by arrhythmia can be a consequence of these heart problems
Rare heart inflammation cases (around one in 6000) were reported in teenagers after their COVID-19 vaccination. These cases have been mild and self-resolving. However, the chance of developing severe illness and death after a COVID-19 infection is much higher (2-10%). There is a higher risk of myocarditis from COVID itself than there is from the vaccine.