A 33-year-old man grappling with Long Covid faced an alarming symptom: his legs would turn blue when he stood up. An insightful study published in The Lancet has uncovered the connection between this rare phenomenon, known as acrocyanosis, and a nervous system disorder affecting heart rate and blood pressure regulation.
The research, spearheaded by Dr. Manoj Sivan from the University of Leeds, delves into the case of a man who developed acrocyanosis post his COVID-19 infection. Acrocyanosis involves a buildup of blood in leg veins, leading to a change in color.
Upon rising, the man observed his legs swiftly transitioning from red to blue within a minute. With time, the hue deepened, revealing prominent veins, accompanied by a sensation of heaviness and itchiness. Normal coloration returned after two minutes of sitting down.
His diagnosis pointed to postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), a condition marked by an abnormal heart rate increase upon standing. POTS is a symptom of dysautonomia, a disorder impacting the autonomic nervous system governing vital functions like heart rate and blood pressure.
Dr. Sivan, an Associate Clinical Professor, and Honorary Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Leeds’ School of Medicine, remarked, “This case of acrocyanosis in a patient post-COVID-19 infection was striking. Patients experiencing this symptom may not realize its association with Long Covid and dysautonomia, potentially raising concerns. Similarly, medical professionals might not connect acrocyanosis with Long Covid. Creating awareness about dysautonomia in the context of Long Covid is crucial for clinicians to aptly manage patients.”
Long Covid encompasses lingering symptoms for months after recovering from COVID-19, impacting various body systems and daily life. Dysautonomia is a common feature of Long Covid, as well as other post-viral syndromes.
Though acrocyanosis has been observed in dysautonomia-afflicted children, this report marks its first instance in an adult with Long Covid. Dr. Sivan’s previous research highlights dysautonomia and POTS as frequent Long Covid complications.
Dysautonomia is also linked with chronic conditions like Fibromyalgia and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Dr. Sivan emphasizes the necessity of heightened awareness surrounding dysautonomia within long-term health conditions, advocating for improved assessment, management strategies, and further research to benefit patients and practitioners alike.
This study is a part of Dr. Sivan’s ongoing autonomic medicine research. His team has additionally developed an at-home test to aid individuals experiencing symptoms of autonomic dysfunction in conditions such as long COVID, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and diabetes types 1 and 2, where dizziness or fainting episodes are common.