Conspiricists Claim Heart Risk Media Stories are Vaccine Harm Cover Stories

Stories about health and wellbeing have long been a newspaper staple – unlike many news subjects, claims about whether a particular food or lifestyle practice might extend or cut short one’s time on earth are directly relevant to readers’ lives. The material is often taken from genuine scientific studies, which are frequently sensationalised for journalistic effect. Perhaps the most famous outcome is the “Daily Mail Cancer List”, which has been made into a song.

However, the genre is also now of interest to conspiracy theorists, who allege that articles are being planted in the media as a cover story for deaths and injuries caused by Covid vaccination – as such, like public defibrillators, the existence of such stories is evidence of vaccine harm even though they appear to be about something else.

In particular, James Melville regularly boosts his engagement by posting a collage of headlines along with the commentary “They are gaslighting us”. Thousands of followers immediately feel that they have cleverly seen through a deceptive and sinister narrative. This impression is perhaps helped by the fact that the process by which an academic study eventually reaches the media is often opaque and seems to be random – there may be a transmission chain from one source to another over an extended period before a journalist chances upon a bit of easy work.

Are journalists trawling through studies to produce misleading material? Or are scientists creating bogus studies in order to manipulate the media? Melville doesn’t say, but his claim is primarily emotional rather than a reasoned argument built on evidence. His collage is hardly a dataset – it’s a random collection without clearly defined inclusion criteria as regards either time period or location; nor is it contextualised within broader health-reporting trends. However, it has been unpicked in some detail by James Nite, whose Twitter thread can be seen here. Melville’s sources, as logged by Nite, are as follows:

Express article “Heart attack: Does skipping breakfast increase your risk?”: published 12 December 2021, based on a 2019 study [link];

Times article “Lonely older women at greater risk of heart attack, study shows”: published 2 February 2022, based on a 2022 study using retrospective data from 2011-2019 [link];

CNN article “Climate change could hurt babies’ hearts, study says”: published 30 January 2019, based on a 2019 study using 1995-2007 data and projection data [link];

Daily Mail article “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”: published 2 February 2022, quotes a cardiologist who has been researching the stress of exercise on the heart since 2017 [link];

Sunday Times article “Rise in heart attacks attributed to pandemic stress and poor diet”: published 16 October 2022 and ironically based a rent-a-quote from Aseem Malhotra, from before he found new audiences as a prominent Covid vaccination alarmist [link];

Irish Times article “Physical activity may increase heart attack risk, study suggests”: published 20 September 2021, based on a 2021 study using data from 2011-2017; [link];

Express article “Heart attack: The drink that could trigger a ‘sudden’ cardiac arrest – ‘catastrophic'”: published 2 February 2022, based on a short 2017 letter to an academic journal [link];

New York Post article “The little-known heart attack that’s striking ‘fit and healthy’ women as young as 22”: published 26 October 2021, based on a 2017 Mayo Clinic article on SCAD and reports dating back more than 10 years [link];

Mail Online article “Do YOU live under a flight path? You may be at risk of a heart attack: Study finds rates are 70 PER CENT higher in noisiest areas”: published 23 March 2022, based on a 2022 poster abstract using a dataset from 2018 [link];

Guardian article “Hotter nights increase risk of death from heart disease for men in early 60s”: published 29 March 2022, based on a 2021 study using 2001-2015 data [link];

Sun article “GREEN FINGERS Urgent warning to gardeners as soil ‘increases risk of killer heart disease'”: published 14 November 2022, based on studies (here, here and here) using 2005-2017 datasets [link]; and

New York Post article “Falling asleep with the TV on could bring early death: study”: published 28 June 2022, based on a 2022 study using 2007-2010 data [link].

Alongside Melville’s collage we can add a few more examples:

Express article “Blood clots: Compound found in eggs linked to an enhanced risk of blood clotting”: published 26 January 2022, based on a 2017 study from the Cleveland clinic.

Fake news website YourNewsWire re-wrote this article as “Scientists warn eggs are causing thousands of people to ‘suddenly’ form blood clots”, playing on “Died Suddenly” sensationalism and obviously implying that the study was concocted to explain away some “sudden” public health crisis. That one was promoted by conspiricist novelty pop-duo Right Said Fred.


BMJ study “Artificial sweeteners and risk of cardiovascular diseases: results from the prospective NutriNet-Santé cohort”: published 7 September 2022.

Fake news website Slay News wrote this one up as “Artificial sweeteners behind spike in sudden deaths, heart attacks, ‘experts’ claim”. The BMJ article of course referenced no such “spike”, although Melville didn’t bother to check when he chose to promote the bogus headline with “eyes” emoji, his way of indicating that a headline reveals some hidden truth to the discerning.

One more item doing the rounds (but not promoted by Melville):

Falsely attributed to BBC News: “Breathing too many times a day could raise your risk of a deadly heart attack”.

That one was a hoax, as discussed by Reuters.

Nite theorises that such stories are being used by the media to “stoke” the idea of vaccine injury, and that “they actively exploit public paranoia & their own negative perception”. It is reasonable to suppose that increased anxiety about heart attacks is likely to drive media content creation.

There is also some suspicion that the phrase “died suddenly” is making its way into headlines to take advantage of public fears. This is certainly the case with some fringe-right sites: Breibart recently ran a piece headlined “Simon Dunn, famed Australian Olympian and rugby player, dies suddenly at 35”, which was then amplified by Nigel Farage. However, the trend towards clickbait headlines mean that the phrase has opportunistic as well as ideological attractions.

2 Responses

  1. Did I miss your in-depth, fact-filled, reference-swamped, blogs on the conspiracy theories about shadowy government units snooping on journalists, and even MPS, and getting their interviews DeBoosted, Throttled, ShadowBanned, or even disappeared off the interweb tubes?

    Oh, wait….

    Perhaps the government got those hidden too!

    Oh, wait again!

    Strangely your “nudge” (shove?!) pieces on things like Covid never seem to be interfered with!

    I wonder why that is?!

  2. Good article. Glad to see someone doing due diligence.

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