Researchers study links between COVID and POTS

A woman holds her head and extends and arm after standing up to maintain her balance.

As researchers study links between COVID-19 vaccines and uncommon side effects, they have found a slight increase in the number of people who have experienced postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) following vaccination. However, this association is five times less common compared to people who developed POTS after having COVID. The findings from this study, which was partially supported by NHLBI, published in Nature Cardiovascular Research.

POTS is marked by orthostatic intolerance, a sudden reduction in blood flow returning to the heart after a person rises or stands. Common symptoms include feeling lightheaded, faint, and having an increased heartrate after standing. Treatments may include consuming salt tablets, staying hydrated, wearing compression stockings, and taking certain medications.

For this analysis, researchers analyzed data from more than 284,000 adults who received a COVID vaccine. Among adults in this group, 763 (268 per 100,000) experienced POTS after getting vaccinated compared to 501 (176 per 100,000) before getting vaccinated. Conversely, among more than 12,000 adults who had COVID, 260 (2,086 out of every 100,000) experienced POTS after the infection. Approximately 123 adults (987 out of every 100,000) experienced POTS before having COVID.

The authors shared more research is needed to understand these connections, but this type of ongoing research could strengthen physician-patient communication and boost vaccine uptake.

“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 study author Alan C. Kwan, M.D., through a Cedars-Sinai Medical Center news release.