AS the Covid pandemic has evolved, experts are understanding more about the lasting impacts the virus can have.
Now researchers say they have identified another long-term side effect of coronavirus.
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A rare heart condition which can cause rapid heart rate, dizziness and lightheadedness may be linked with the infection, scientists have found.
Experts in Sweden say that postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, or POTS, could be the latest in a bizarre list of so called "long Covid" symptoms.
It can cause bouts of dizziness when sitting up or standing due to low blood pressure, while other symptoms can include heart palpitations, headaches, fatigue and blurred vision.
POTS usually affects young and middle-age women and can leave some sufferers needing to use a wheelchair to go about their daily lives.
This serious condition can significantly affect the quality of life, but is not usually life-threatening, experts say.
The causes are usually undetermined, but it can be caused by viral illness, severe infection or trauma and can get better as time passes.
There is no cure or standard treatment, but it can be managed with self-care, exercise, diet and certain medications.
What is long Covid?
HUNDREDS of thousands of people recovering from the coronavirus have been struck down with debilitating symptoms.
Those suffering have dubbed the condition "long-Covid", with many reporting symptoms of chronic fatigue and cognitive problems.
The all-party parliamentary group (APPG) of MPs on the coronavirus previously claimed there were 16 symptoms that people with long-Covid suffer with.
- Hair loss
- High temperature
- Chest pain
- Covid toes
- Cognitive problems
- Breathing issues
- Muscle or body aches
- A heart rate of more than 100 beats a minute (Tachycardia)
- Issues with your heart rate or its rhythm (Arrhythmia)
In this study, researchers looked at three Swedish patients who were diagnosed with POTS more than three months after presumed Covid infections.
All three patients experienced Covid-like symptoms last spring, but not all sought medical attention or received tests for the virus at the time of their symptoms.
Later that summer and autumn, all three began experiencing symptoms of POTS, including extreme fatigue, headache, nausea and dizziness.
A diagnosis was confirmed using active standing and head-up tilt tests, the researchers said.
Dr Madeleine Johansson, of the Department of Clinical Sciences at Lund University in Malmo and one of the lead authors of the case report, said: "As reports of Covid-19 patients being impacted by long-term symptoms unrelated to their original diagnosis continue to grow, it's important to raise awareness of POTS as a possible long-term complication.
"Much remains unknown about the specific mechanisms responsible for the POTS-like symptoms in post-Covid-19 patients or how long these symptoms will last, but chronic symptoms are expected in a subset of patients based on this initial clinical experience."
What is postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)?
Postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS) is an abnormal increase in heart rate that occurs after sitting up or standing. Some typical symptoms include dizziness and fainting.
PoTS affects a range of people but is most common in girls and women aged 15 to 50.
Some people have mild symptoms, while others find the condition affects their quality of life. PoTS often improves gradually over time, and there are some medicines and self-care measures that can help.
You can develop PoTS suddenly, or it can begin gradually.
You can sometimes get symptoms almost immediately, or a few minutes after sitting up or standing. Lying down may relieve some of the symptoms.
Typical symptoms of PoTS include:
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- problems with thinking, memory and concentration – this combination of symptoms is often called "brain fog"
- heart palpitations
- shaking and sweating
- weakness and fatigue (tiredness)
- poor sleep
- chest pain
- feeling sick
- shortness of breath
Some people notice that feeling hot, eating, strenuous exercise or having a period can make their symptoms worse.
See a GP if you think you have PoTS.
The researchers noted that a negative Covid-19 test does not exclude the patient from having been infected with the virus and "ought to be interpreted with caution in the context of typical symptoms".
Other causes of POTS symptoms should be excluded, including dehydration, other infections, anxiety and anaemia, the researchers added.
The clinical case report was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).
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