Morning Medical Update Friday 3-29-24

Media Resources

Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974


Key points from today’s guests:

Mikayla Dreyer, living with POTS

  • Mikayla Dreyer was 29 years old when she got COVID in December of 2020.
  • Before that, she was very active as a long-distance runner who hadn't taken a sick day in years.
  • Mikayla tested positive for COVID, which led to trouble breathing, walking sitting, and even talking. Weeks of sickness turned into months and her symptoms multiplied.
  • She went from being from a perfectly healthy to needing a wheelchair because she was having so many episodes of passing out or near passing out due to heart rate changes and dizziness.
  • Her infection had triggered a bigger problem in her nervous system and doctors at The University of Kansas Health System post-COVID clinic diagnosed Mikayla with a condition called POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome).
  • When she got pregnant, her symptoms got much better.
  • With a combination of medication, time and motherhood, today she does not require a wheelchair and is able to return to regular activities as she cares for her 17-month-old son.

Dr. Branden Comfort, internal medicine physician, The University of Kansas Health System

  • Patients who have POTS and become pregnant do see improvements because the plasma volume and blood volume actually increases and that actually offsets some of those symptoms.
  • When we stand up or go from a seated to standing position, gravity pulls our blood volume down to our feet. There are a number of mechanisms in our body that help keep blood in our head and these are all driven by the autonomic nervous system.
  • Our nervous system constricts our blood vessels. For patients with POTS, that mechanism is all thrown off and so their heart rate may go up significantly and that leads to all sorts of symptoms -- dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue, headache.
  • Viral infections are certainly the most common cause of POTS. About 40-50 percent of POTS cases have been tied to viral infections.
  • Active research on the treatment for long COVID are in trials to battle brain fog, fatigue, and other symptoms. But the research is complicated because patients with long COVID do not have the same symptoms.
  • People with long COVID need to maintain that hope and optimism. What we've seen is most people do get better over time and time seems to be our best treatment tool.

Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control, The University of Kansas Health System

  • The hospital COVID count for this week is at 11 inpatients, down from 12 the prior two weeks.
  • Long COVID can significantly affect people in different ways. Patients know their symptoms best because not all symptoms show up in tests.
  • A study out of Ireland was published in Nature Neuroscience and it linked long COVID brain fog to something called a “leaky” blood brain barrier.
  • COVID can affect the blood vessels and chemical responses in the brain, which can potentially lead to the brain fog symptoms that many long COVID patients suffer from.
  • We also know there is good data to support that vaccines can help reduce getting long COVID.
  • Remain optimistic because as time goes on, we have seen that people do recover for this from this or have their symptoms greatly reduced.
  • We will continue to look at the research, but as Dr. Comfort said, the symptoms are so varied among long COVID patients that this research is complicated.

Monday, April 1 at 8 a.m. is the next Morning Medical Update. When a competitive diver decided to switch sports, her body had to prepare to switch as well. Find out how she did it.

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