Research published on Monday confirmed a link between a Covid infection and a debilitating heart condition called POTS, or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, which has been diagnosed in some Covid patients for a long time.
The results, published in the journal Nature Cardiovascular Researchare consistent with earlier reports from doctors that Covid could trigger POTS, an autonomic nervous system disorder is often characterized by rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, fainting and dizziness.
Doctors often fail to recognize the condition, experts say, because it can be mistaken for a myriad of other health conditions, including anxiety and dehydration. Many patients spend years trying to be properly diagnosed.
One of the earlier findings with long Covid was that it could be associated with POTS and this new research builds on that, said study lead author Dr. Alan Kwan, a cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai. Medical Center.
POTS was also linked, to a lesser extent, to vaccination against Covid with an mRNA vaccine, according to the new study.
Researchers analyzed data from nearly 300,000 patients in the Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles County from 2020 to 2022 who had either received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine or had a confirmed case of Covid. . The vast majority of people vaccinated in the study received an mRNA vaccine – either from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna. People with a confirmed case of Covid had not been vaccinated.
While the researchers found a small but increased risk of POTS after Covid vaccination and, in particular, the first dose, the risk was greater after Covid infection itself: contracting Covid was linked to a risk five times higher POTS than vaccination.
“The main message here is that although we see a potential link between vaccination against Covid-19 and POTS, preventing Covid-19 through vaccination is still the best way to reduce your risk of developing POTS,” said Kwan said.
He added that the study had limitations, including that the results were based on patient data from only one health system. He also said the link between POTS and Covid vaccination needs to be confirmed by further studies.
It’s unclear why Covid vaccines would trigger the disease, Kwan said, but added it could be related to the immune response generated by the injections.
Dr. Ofer Levy, director of the Precision Vaccines program at Boston Children’s Hospital, agreed.
He noted that vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have been associated with a low risk of myocarditis. This condition, he said, may also be linked to the immune response generated by the shots. However, the risk of myocarditis is significantly higher after Covid infection only after vaccination.
Researchers should further explore the immune response to injections because “the better we understand how adverse events work, the smarter we can get in designing better vaccines in the future,” Levy said.
Other vaccines have also been linked to POTS in early reports, but additional research has not established a causal link.
The HPV vaccine Gardasil, for example, was thought to cause POTS based on early reports, but later revisions found that was not the case, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center who was not involved in the new research.
The link between an infection – including Covid – and POTS is more well established, however.
“Many conditions can trigger POTS, including viral infections such as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19,” said Dr. Bala Munipalli, physician who runs the post-acute sequelae clinic. of Covid at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. , Florida, said in an email.
POTS following other types of infection is not uncommon, Schaffner said. The condition has been linked to a number of viral or bacterial infections, including influenza, mononucleosis, and Lyme disease.
Dr Daniel Dudenkov, a physician at the Mayo Clinic, said that although Covid vaccines may be associated with POTS, it is important to keep in mind that Covid infection itself is much more likely to lead to the JARS.
“Vaccines continue to be an important strategy to combat Covid and its effects,” he said.
Schaffner agreed, saying the event following vaccination is “rare”.
“The risk of this happening is much greater with Covid than with the vaccine. So please get vaccinated,” he said.
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