Uptick in mysterious condition puzzles physicians

Physicians are reporting a surge in a mysterious medical condition notably affecting young, athletic women since the onset of the pandemic, The Washington Post reported April 10. 

Individuals with postural tachycardia syndrome, or POTS, experience a rapid increase in their heart rate after getting up from sitting or lying down. Initially documented more than 150 years ago, the syndrome has seen a surge in cases since COVID-19. Physicians who treat the disorder have specifically reported an uptick among young, female athletes, a puzzling trend as these individuals are otherwise healthy. 

Several factors may be contributing to the increase in cases, according to Robert Wilson, DO, a neurologist who leads Cleveland Clinic's POTS practice. For one, women of childbearing age may be more susceptible to inflammation, and COVID-19 may have exacerbated this in many people. Athletes also endure repeated stress on the body, which could also leave them at risk, according to Dr. Wilson.

Another theory is that athletes may simply be more in tune with their bodies, thus creating a reporting bias, according to the Post

Prior to 2020, an estimated 1 million to 3 million individuals in the U.S. were affected by POTS, with recent research indicating that 2% to 14% of COVID-19 patients may later develop the condition.

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