Rapid heartbeat 5 times more likely with COVID than with COVID vaccine

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Rapid heartbeat 5 times more likely with COVID than with COVID vaccine

By Cara Murez HealthDay reporter

(health day)

TUESDAY, December 13, 2022 (HealthDay News) — New research has found a link between a lesser-known heart syndrome and COVID infection, finding a much weaker link between the condition and the COVID vaccination.

Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is a nervous system disorder that causes a rapid increase in heart rate of more than 30 beats per minute or a heart rate of more than 120 beats per minute within 10 minutes of standing. Some experience fainting, dizziness, fatigue, migraines, increased urination, sweaty extremities, anxiety, and tremors.

While vaccination posed some risk, people diagnosed with COVID-19 were five times more likely to develop POTS than after vaccination.

“The main message here is that while we see a potential link between the COVID-19 vaccination and POTS, preventing COVID-19 through vaccination is still the best way to reduce the risk of developing POTS,” said First author Dr. Alan Kwan, a cardiovascular specialist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

“From this analysis, we found that the likelihood of developing POTS is higher 90 days after exposure to the vaccine than in the 90 days before exposure,” Kwan said in a center news release. “We also found that the relative likelihood of POTS was higher than would be explained by an increase in visits to the doctor after vaccination or infection.

“This knowledge identifies a possible – albeit still relatively weak – link between COVID-19 vaccination and POTS,” Kwan said.

The research team used data from more than 284,000 vaccinated patients treated in the broader Cedars-Sinai health system between 2020 and 2022, along with more than 12,000 Cedars-Sinai patients with COVID-19.

Many healthcare providers are unfamiliar with POTS and its symptoms, resulting in patients struggling for years before receiving a proper diagnosis. The symptoms of POTS are sometimes mistakenly attributed to chronic fatigue syndrome or other conditions.

With the connection to the COVID virus, the medical field has come to understand POTS better.

“In an unexpected but important way, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a great deal of awareness of POTS—both among patients and providers,” said co-author Dr. Peng-Sheng Chen, a Cedars Sinai expert on the condition, runs one of only a few POTS specialty clinics in the country.

“With a broader understanding of the disease, many patients can be diagnosed more quickly, allowing for earlier interventions that can significantly improve their symptoms,” Chen said in the release.

POTS typically affects young women of childbearing age.

POTS interventions include avoiding triggers such as prolonged standing, extreme heat, extreme cold, and alcoholic beverages, Chen said. Patients with this condition may also be advised to eat a high-sodium diet and wear abdominal or lower-body compression clothing. Sometimes patients are treated with specific medications or programs to strengthen the body and heart.

The study has limitations, the researchers said, but they hope it will help improve conversations about COVID-19 and vaccines.

“As clinicians, we recognize that while overall still unusual, vaccine side effects can vary in type and severity. We hope that clearer data and better understanding will eventually increase medical confidence and quality of care, as well as communication around vaccines,” Kwan said. “Ultimately, our goal is to optimize vaccine uptake.”

The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on POTS.

SOURCE: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, press release, December 12, 2022

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