Have you ever heard of POTS?
“In POTS, the lightheadedness or fainting is also accompanied by a rapid increase in heartbeat of more than 30 beats per minute, or a heart rate that exceeds 120 beats per minute, within 10 minutes of rising.”
NIH Postural Tachycardia Syndrome Information Page
POTS or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome was first identified in the early 1990s and can cause many debilitating symptoms, such as dizziness, headaches, and fatigue.
What Causes POTS?
We don’t know what causes POTS.
“The term “POTS” was coined in 1993 by a team of researchers from Mayo Clinic, led by neurologist Dr. Philip Low. However, POTS is not a new illness; it has been known by other names throughout history, such as DaCosta’s Syndrome, Soldier’s Heart, Mitral Valve Prolapse Syndrome, Neurocirculatory Asthenia, Chronic Orthostatic Intolerance, Orthostatic Tachycardia and Postural Tachycardia Syndrome.”
Dysautonomia International on POTS
Well, we know that POTS is caused by a malfunction of the patient’s autonomic nervous system (dysautonomia), but we don’t know always know what causes or triggers that malfunction.
Sometimes we do though, as POTS has been associated with other types of dysautonomia, like Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Mast Cell Disorders.
And genetics may play a role in some people with POTS.
Can Vaccines Cause POTS?
It shouldn’t be surprising that some folks think that vaccines could be associated with POTS.
“Anyone at any age can develop POTS, but the majority of individuals affected (between 75 and 80 percent) are women between the ages of 15 to 50 years of age.”
NIH Postural Tachycardia Syndrome Information Page
As more people were becoming aware of POTS, some of them were getting vaccinated for HPV.
But that correlation certainly doesn’t mean that vaccines cause POTS.
“POTS is a condition that causes lightheadedness or fainting and a rapid increase in heartbeat upon standing. The cause is unknown, but doctors think POTS may be associated with a number of risk factors and syndromes, including: a recent viral illness, physical deconditioning, chronic fatigue syndrome and nervous system problems.”
CDC on Can HPV vaccines cause POTS?
And studies have confirmed that, including:
- In 2015, the European Medical Association confirmed evidence that HPV vaccines do not cause complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)
- A review of VAERS reports that “did not detect any unusual or unexpected reporting patterns that would suggest a safety problem” with HPV vaccination, including extra cases of POTS
- A study in the UK using the MHRA’s Yellow Card passive surveillance scheme found no increase in reports of chronic fatigue syndromes following the introduction of Cervarix
- A large, nationwide register-based study from Norway found no indication of increased risk of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis following HPV vaccination
- A large cohort study of over 2 million young girls in France found no risk for autoimmune diseases (including neurological, rheumatological, hematological, endocrine, and gastro-intestinal disorders)
- A large cohort study of girls in Sweden with pre-existing autoimmune diseases found that HPV vaccination was not associated with increased incidence of new-onset autoimmune disease (49 types of autoimmune diseases)
“There is currently no conclusive evidence to support a causal relationship between the HPV vaccine and POTS. It is of utmost importance to recognize that although temporal associations may be observed, conclusions of causality cannot be drawn from case reports and case series due to the small sample size and lack of control population inherent to this type of scientific literature. If POTS does develop after receiving the HPV vaccine, it would appear to do so in a small subset of individuals and would be difficult to distinguish from the normal prevalence and incidence of the disorder.”
Butts et al on Human Papillomavirus Vaccine and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome: A Review of Current Literature
What about other vaccines? Could they cause POTS?
While the focus has been on the HPV vaccines, an issue with other vaccines causing POTS would have been picked up with our current vaccine safety systems.
But why has the focus been on the HPV vaccines?
It is an easy association to notice, after all POTS begins to occur right around when the HPV vaccines are given (teen years) and the HPV vaccines are given in many different countries. Most other vaccines that we give to teens in the United States, including Tdap and the meningococcal vaccines, aren’t as widely used in other countries.
But remember, POTS isn’t a new diagnosis. That anti-vaccine groups are latching onto it to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids is.
What to Know About Vaccines and POTS
There is no evidence that vaccines, especially the HPV vaccines, cause POTS.
More on Vaccines and POTS
- Postural Tachycardia Syndrome Information Page
- Understanding POTS
- Dysautonomia International
- Why Have I Never Heard of Dysautonomia?
- Dysautonomia Support Network Library
- What is postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)?
- Diagnosing Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome
- Connecting the Dots Between EDS and POTS
- HPV vaccines: EMA confirms evidence does not support that they cause CRPS or POTS
- European Medicines Agency concludes HPV vaccine doesn’t cause POTS, will that stop bad vaccine journalism?
- How the Toronto Star massively botched a story about the HPV vaccine — and corrected the record
- CDC – Can HPV vaccines cause POTS?
- WHO – Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine safety Statement on Safety of HPV vaccines
- Study – Human Papillomavirus Vaccine and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome: A Review of Current Literature.
- A Tale of Two Syndromes – POTS and MCAS
- Study – Orthostatic intolerance and chronic fatigue syndrome associated with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
- Study – Reports of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome After Human Papillomavirus Vaccination in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.
- Study – Autoimmune Basis for Postural Tachycardia Syndrome
- Study – Autonomic Nervous System Dysfunction in Adolescents with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Is Characterized by Attenuated Vagal Baroreflex and Potentiated Sympathetic Vasomotion
- Review – Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)
- Coping with clinical uncertainty
- Tolerating Uncertainty — The Next Medical Revolution?
- Improving Diagnosis in Health Care
- When doctors know that they don’t know