Collection of heart attack articles includes one fake

1 March 2022
What was claimed

Shaking your duvet, climate change, energy drinks, shovelling snow and your electric bill can all reportedly cause heart attacks in 2022.

Our verdict

The article claiming shaking your duvet can risk heart attacks is fake. The one about climate change is from 2010. The one about energy drinks does not prove energy drinks cause heart attacks. The last two are based on claims made by doctors.

A post being shared on Facebook includes a number of screenshots of articles about what can cause heart attacks “in 2022”. One of these is a completely fake news story and one is from over a decade ago.

We have checked several examples of misinformation about heart attacks on social media recently. The implication of these claims is often that it’s the Covid-19 vaccines actually causing these heart conditions, but the British Heart Foundation says there is no evidence of an increased risk of death from cardiac arrest following vaccination. 

The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency has said there is a potential risk of myocarditis and pericarditis (another form of heart inflammation) with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. It added: “These reports are very rare, and the events reported are typically mild with individuals usually recovering within a short time with standard treatment and rest.”

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What does the post claim?

In this post, the first screenshot, featuring the headline “Shaking the duvet too vigorously while making your bed can increase your chances of a heart attack, scientists warn” is fake. ITV hasn’t written that article and neither has any other outlet that we could find. We’ve written about it in full here.

The next, with the headline “Energy bill price rise may cause heart attacks and strokes, says TV GP” is from a genuine article in Wales Online from 3 February 2022

This is based on quotes from Dr Amir Khan made on ITV’s Lorraine. He said: “If you can’t afford to heat your home, it actually causes an increased risk of developing heart attacks and strokes because your blood vessels contract to conserve heat, which pushes your blood pressure up, and over time that has an impact on your heart attack and stroke risk.”

The next screenshot has the headline “Expert warns that shoveling snow can be a deadly way to discover underlying cardiovascular conditions as straining the heart with physical activity could cause sudden death”. This is from a genuine article from the MailOnline, dated 2 February 2022. 

It quotes the head of preventive cardiology at the University of Michigan, John Bisognano, as saying “Sometimes shoveling snow brings out the underlying cardiovascular diseases people have, and it may be the first time they notice that their exercise capacity is not what it used to be the year prior.”

In an accompanying press release from the university, the cardiologist goes on to say: “If you’ve been active and you haven’t felt chest pain or shortness of breath, and you feel good today, shoveling is probably OK”. The comments were made in light of snowstorms affecting the United States in January 2022.

The next screenshot shows a stock image of a man clutching his chest, with the caption “Heart attack: Energy drinks may increase the risk of an event”. 

This is a genuine picture caption from an article in the Express dated 2 February 2022, with the headline: “Heart attack: The drink that could trigger a ‘sudden’ cardiac arrest - 'catastrophic'”. Although there have been cases of heart events being linked to excessive energy drink consumption, the Express article doesn’t provide any evidence that modest consumption of energy drinks causes heart attacks.

The article mentions, but does not link to, what it calls a “a 2017 paper published in Anatolian Journal of Cardiology” seems to be a reference to a letter to the editor with a single author. This letter claims that energy drinks “might” lead to cardiovascular events in young people.

It quotes this letter as saying “It seems clear that energy drinks, some beverages, and some supplements that include stimulants might lead to critical and rarely irreversible cardiovascular events in the young population.”

The full letter begins by saying: “Recently, it has been detected that unexplained cardiac arrest in some young individuals developed after consuming energy drinks, particularly simultaneously with alcohol intake”. A cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack.

The debate on whether energy drinks are linked to heart conditions is not a new one.

The last screenshot, with the headline “Climate change ‘will increase heart deaths’” is a genuine BBC article, but it’s from 11 August 2010, so isn’t something that has been raised as causing heart attacks “in 2022” as the Facebook post claims.

The article is based on a study that looked at how many extra heart attack deaths there were in colder weather. Climate change is expected to cause more extremes in weather, including potentially colder snaps, not just increases in temperature.

Image courtesy of Michel E via Unsplash.

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