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A New Study Links COVID-19 With This Debilitating Disease

December 14, 2022

New research published in the Nature Cardiovascular Research journal has linked postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS for short) with COVID-19 infection. The study confirms the connection between the two diseases, which had been observed by many cardiologists, including Aneesh Tolat, MD, a cardiac electrophysiologist with the Hartford HealthCare Heart & Vascular Institute. Dr. Tolat explains POTS and its potential link to COVID. > Connect with the Heart & Vascular Institute

What is POTS and how is it treated?

POTS affects a part of the nervous system that regulates involuntary functions like heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, digestion and sexual arousal. It is typically more common in women between the ages of 15 and 50. Symptoms of the disease include:
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fainting
  • Lightheadedness
Treatment for those with POTS is largely self-care such as increasing fluid intake, blood pressure medication, IV fluids and compression stockings, says Dr. Tolat. > Concerned about these symptoms? Connect with an expert

Vaccine connection

The researchers analyzed data on close to 300,000 patients in California who received one dose of COVID vaccine or had the virus. Most of those vaccinated received a Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccine. They discovered a small increase in POTS after vaccination, specifically dose one, but determined the risk was five times greater for those infected with COVID. This underscores the value of vaccine, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently credited with keeping more than 18.5 million people in the U.S. out of the hospital and saving more than 3.2 million lives. “The message is clear. More people who were unvaccinated and got COVID got POTS,” Dr. Tolat says. > Related: Is There a Link Between COVID-19 and Atrial Fibrillation?

A challenge to diagnose

POTS can be challenging to diagnose because it shares symptoms with a number of other health conditions, including dehydration. Until this point, doctors had no clear reason to connect it with COVID. “Inflammation is likely a factor, but the exact cause for POTS is unknown,” he explains, adding that inflammation might also be the link between the condition and COVID vaccination, as noted by the research. Want more health news? Text MoreLife to 31996 to sign up for text alerts

When to see a doctor

If you notice any symptoms of POTS, speak with your primary care doctor.