Some people report palpitations following a Covid-19 infections. Palpitations can be described as an awareness of your heart beating, or a sensation of it ‘fluttering’, beating fast or feeling irregular.
They can sometimes be related to other symptoms, such as fatigue. They can also be caused by other conditions which may not necessarily be related to long covid. Although scary, It’s important to remember that palpitations can be caused by many other factors other than long covid such as caffeine, medication, menopause, and anxiety, so your clinician will take a thorough history and make sure that they have excluded any other causes before deciding how best to manage your palpitations. In the meantime, you must seek urgent support for your palpitations if they start getting worse, you develop any chest pain, have a history of any heart problems, or feel sweaty , dizzy or nauseous when you feel the palpitations.
Important: Please do not wait for your long covid clinic appointment to discuss your palpitations; you must see your GP for this beforehand, so that they can organise any necessary tests or investigations in the meantime.
POTs (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome)
Occasionally, palpitations in long covid can be caused by something called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTs). This condition can be due to an abnormal response by the autonomic nervous system and is characterised by the development of symptoms when upright that are mostly relieved by lying down. Put simply, your heart rate might increase and stay elevated when you stand up. Symptoms include palpitations, light headedness, fatigue, sweating, nausea, fainting and headaches. It’s important to wait for your assessment with one of our clinicians before assuming that your symptoms are due to POTs, as we will need to arrange further testing to confirm or rule out a POTs diagnosis.
There are some lifestyle measures that may be helpful in managing POTs symptoms, and many people manage this condition successfully without any medication. Please take a look at the POTs UK website (link below) for more information about this. Other people may need medication to lower the heart rate for a period of time.
If your clinician suspects that you might be describing symptoms of POTs, they will book you a face to face assessment in one of our clinic locations. A clinician will perform something called an active stand test. Please see the leaflet below for more information about this simple test. If a diagnosis of POTs is made, your clinician will discuss with you how best to manage this condition.
You might find the following videos useful to watch, which explain more about POTs and the effects it can have on lifestyle etc.