People may have a higher chance of developing debilitating heart disease after a COVID-19 infection, according to a new study published Monday, December 12.
The condition, POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome), is a nervous system disorder that causes a person’s heart to race rapidly within 10 minutes of standing up, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. It comes with known worsening symptoms, including dizziness and fainting, and was considered a potential long-lasting COVID condition, according to research.
The study also found that getting the coronavirus vaccine is linked to a greater chance of developing POTS but to a “lesser extent,” according to a press release about the work, which involved researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Angeles.
Still, ‘risks remain higher after infection than after vaccination,’ study finds published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Cardiovascular Research said.
The results come as the United States approaches 100 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of December 14.
Although a person’s odds of developing POTS were found to be higher three months after being vaccinated, they were more than five times higher after COVID-19 infection than after vaccination, according to the study.
The researchers analyzed 284,592 vaccinated people and 12,460 people who had had COVID-19 from 2020 to 2022. The participants were patients from the Cedars-Sinai Health System.
“The main message here is that while we see a potential link between COVID-19 vaccination and POTS, preventing COVID-19 through vaccination is still the best way to reduce your risk of developing POTS,” said said the study’s lead author, Dr. Alan C. Kwan. said in a statement.
That possible link is “relatively thin,” Kwan added.
Previously, POTS was known to develop after a viral illness, traumatic event, during or after pregnancy, and alongside another underlying condition such as diabetes or cancer, according to the UK’s National Health Service. .
Learn more about studying and POTS
Getting a diagnosis of POTS can be difficult because symptoms span different organ systems, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Other symptoms include extreme fatigue, brain fog, headache, nausea and vomiting, and tremors.
“In an unexpected but important way, the COVID-19 pandemic has raised a lot of awareness for POTS, both for patients and providers,” said Dr. Peng-Sheng Chen, another study author and POTS expert. , in a press release.
Of the 12,460 patients known to be infected with COVID-19, those who subsequently received a POTS-associated diagnosis were considered slightly older, according to the study.
Of the 284,592 vaccinated people studied, 62% received the Pfizer vaccine, 31% received the Moderna vaccine, 6.9% received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and less than 1% of patients received other vaccines including AstraZeneca, Novovax and Sinovac, according to the study.
For this group, POTS ranked among the top five conditions seen in these people after they were vaccinated, the researchers found. Other conditions included myocarditis, dysautonomia, mast cell activation syndrome and urinary tract infection, according to the study.
The study authors stressed that their findings do not mean that vaccination against COVID-19 causes POTS. They call for further investigation given that their research was observational.
New diagnoses of POTS after vaccination have previously been reported in the medical literature, including in relation to the human papillomavirus vaccine Gardasil, according to an article published in Nature Cardiovascular Research describing the study.
“We recognize as clinicians that vaccine side effects can vary in type and severity, although they are still infrequent overall,” Kwan said. “We hope that clearer data and better understanding will ultimately strengthen medical trust and quality of care as well as communications around vaccines.”
One limitation of the study was the “generality” of the results, as they are limited to patients in the Cedars-Sinai Health System.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 500,000 to 3 million people were known to have POTS in the United States, according to the study document.
“Avoiding triggers” such as standing for a long time, being exposed to hot and cold temperatures, and drinking alcohol can help people manage POTS, Chen said.
There is no cure for POTS, according to the Mayo Clinic.
This story was originally published December 14, 2022 11:15 a.m.
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