At Wisner Baum, we represent numerous young men and women throughout the country diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and other autoimmune disorders after receiving the Gardasil human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. Our lawsuits allege Gardasil’s manufacturer, Merck, concealed known dangers about its HPV vaccine, including the fact that studies have linked Gardasil to POTS and other serious side effects.
Many of our clients experienced difficulties when trying to get a diagnosis for POTS because the underlying symptoms can be similar to other autoimmune disorders. Getting proper treatment for POTS can also be frustrating and difficult. It is our hope that this blog will be a useful resource for people who may be suffering from POTS after receiving the Gardasil vaccine.
What is POTS?
POTS is an autonomic nervous system disorder characterized by an excessive increase in heart rate when a person stands up. It is one of the major manifestations of autonomic dysfunction (or dysautonomia).
POTS is defined as a sustained postural tachycardia within the first 10 minutes of standing or tilt table testing without an abnormal drop in blood pressure. POTS symptoms occur with a change in posture (hence “postural” orthostatic tachycardia syndrome). Patients may also experience what is termed “orthostatic intolerance” (OI) symptoms due to decreased blood flow to the brain and other organs.
People with POTS may experience a variety of symptoms, including dizziness, vertigo, and lightheadedness, among others. Some patients suffer partial or complete loss of vision due to decreased blood flow to the brain. This can result in loss of consciousness.
Common POTS Symptoms
Common POTS symptoms include:
- Body pain
- Brain fog
- Chest pain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Joint pain
- Shortness of breath
- Tingling sensation
How is POTS Diagnosed?
For adults, a POTS diagnosis relies on orthostatic intolerance associated with a heart rate increase of 30 beats per minute (bpm) or a rate in excess of 120 bpm, within the first 10 minutes of standing or upright tilt, so long as other chronic debilitating conditions are not present.
The threshold for diagnosing children and adolescents was revised to reflect a heart rate increase of 40 bpm or more.
POTS may be diagnosed using a Tilt Table Test. However, if such a test is not available, it may also be diagnosed using bedside measurements of heart rate and blood pressure that are taken while laying down and standing up at two, five, and 10-minute intervals.
Among others, physicians can also conduct more detailed tests to examine the autonomic nervous system in POTS patients, such as:
- Quantitative Sudomotor Axon Reflex Test (QSART, sometimes called Q-Sweat)
- Thermoregulatory Sweat Test (TST)
- Skin biopsies that examine the small fiber nerves
- Gastric Motility Studies
Gardasil and POTS
Merck is the manufacturer of the Gardasil vaccine, which is purported to be a “cervical cancer vaccine” and “anal cancer vaccine” by preventing a handful of the hundreds of strains of the Human Papillomavirus (“HPV”). According to Merck’s marketing claims, Gardasil provides lifetime immunity to cervical, anal, and other HPV-associated cancers. Lawsuits allege Merck’s claim that Gardasil prevents cancer (not to mention lifetime immunity), is unproven.
According to Gardasil lawsuits, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Gardasil after granting Merck fast-track status and speeding the approval process to a six-month period. Attorneys allege the fast-track approval and Merck’s failure to disclose (to the FDA and/or the public) material facts and information relating to Gardasil’s efficacy, has left unanswered questions relating to the HPV vaccine’s safety.
Since Gardasil was approved in 2006, medical experts have found that the mixture of adjuvants in Gardasil and other vaccines is responsible for post-vaccination-induced autoimmune diseases in certain patients, including POTS.
In 2020, the authors of the study Benefits and Harms of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccines: Systemic Review with Meta-Analyses of Trial Data from Clinical Study Reports concluded that “HPV vaccines increased serious nervous disorders” and were linked with a nearly two-fold increased risk of POTS.
Attorneys allege the HPV vaccine is associated with POTS and other autoimmune disorders because Gardasil contains several hazardous ingredients, including at least one ingredient that Merck failed to disclose to regulators and the public. These ingredients include:
Aluminum (AAHS) – Merck’s proprietary aluminum adjuvant, called AAHS, a potent neurotoxin that can impair cognitive and motor function, induce autoimmune interactions, increase blood-brain barrier permeability, alter DNA, and other issues.
Borax – Banned as a food additive in the U.S. Nevertheless, the FDA allows Merck to use Borax in the HPV vaccine without any proof of safety.
Genetically Modified Yeast – Linked to various autoimmune conditions.
Polysorbate 80 – Opens up the blood-brain barrier and allows AAHS and aluminum to pass through resistive cell membranes.
Undisclosed DNA adjuvant – Court cases allege Merck lied to the FDA and the public about including a potentially hazardous ingredient, HPV LI-DNA fragments, in Gardasil. Studies suggest there are serious and little-understood risks that coincide with injecting DNA into the human body.
Studies Link Gardasil and POTS
Researchers continue to find links between the Gardasil HPV vaccine and autoimmune diseases, including POTS. Below are several that have found links between Gardasil and POTS:
- Lars Jørgensen et al., Benefits and Harms of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccines: Systemic Review with Meta-Analyses of Trial Data from Clinical Study Reports, 9 SYSTEMATIC REVIEWS 43 (2020)
- Svetlana Blitshetyn, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Vaccine Safety Concerning POTS, CRPS and Related Conditions, Clinical Autonomic Research (2019)
- Lars Jørgensen et al., Index of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine Industry Clinical Study Programmes and Non-Industry Funded Studies: A Necessary Basis to Address Reporting Bias in a Systematic Review, 7 SYSTEMATIC REVIEW 8 (2018)
- Tom Jefferson et al., Human Papillomavirus Vaccines, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, and Autonomic Dysfunction – A Review of the Regulatory Evidence from the European Medicines Agency, 3 Indian J. of Med. Ethics 30 (2017)
- Louise S. Brinth et al., Orthostatic Intolerance and Postural Tachycardia Syndrome As Suspected Adverse Effects of Vaccination Against Human Papilloma Virus, 33 VACCINE 2602 (2015)
- Manuel Martinez-Lavin et al., HPV Vaccination Syndrome. A Questionnaire Based Study, 34 J. Clinical Rheumatology 1981 (2015)
- Svetlana Blitshetyn, Postural Tachycardia Syndrome Following Human Papillomavirus Vaccination, 21 European J. of Neurology 135 (2014)
- Svetlana Blitshetyn, Postural Tachycardia Syndrome After Vaccination with Gardasil, 17 European J. of Neurology e52 (2010)
What is it Like Living with POTS?
POTS is a debilitating diagnosis that often keeps those who suffer from it from going to school or work. Some cannot exercise or participate in the activities they once enjoyed. Even when POTS symptoms are not severe, there is always a lingering fear that they could happen at a moment’s notice, which leaves many people with feelings of anxiety and a reluctance to engage socially.
Some of our clients describe their struggles living with POTS and other autoimmune diseases:
- "My life is a constant battle between attempting to improve my life and being held back by my own body's limitations. Gardasil has turned my body into a prison, an anchor that won't afford me the ability to live an independent life and one that significantly restricts my ability to grow as a person. Life with vaccine injuries has been a battle, not just to survive, but to live.” – Zach Otto
- “I went from an athlete in peak physical shape to an overweight, overtired person seemingly overnight. I am a shell of what I used to be and feel like all of the hard work and dedication I put into every aspect of my life was taken away from me.” – Emma Sullivan
- “So many of the things I loved to do in life were impossible after I was injured by the Gardasil vaccine at 14. Now every morning I wake up feeling as though I am underwater, every muscle slowly trying to respond to the commands I give them. Eventually, I struggle enough to sit up. I reach over and take my medication sitting on my nightstand. After a few hours, I am able to get up and walk the five steps to my desk.” – Mike Colbath
- “When all of the things you’ve ever wanted to do are physical and something like this comes along and takes away your ability to simply stay on your feet for more than a few minutes at a time, I can’t express how devastating that is. I just want Merck to know that they took from me the opportunity to pursue my dreams.” – Catherine Boss
- “I had no idea that Gardasil was capable of changing my life like this. Even on my best days, I’m still dealing with symptoms that keep me from living the life I want, and that’s not fair.” – Ashley Dalton
- “When I was growing up, my family would joke that I was bullet proof because nothing really fazed me. Since Gardasil, that joke has become something of a mantra because coping with my health issues has required determination and resolve I didn’t know I had. I’ll never know what my life would’ve been like if I hadn’t taken Gardasil. But I do know this—it wouldn’t have been filled with this much pain.” – Maddie Malloy
- “One of the hardest things about life after Gardasil is having people not believe me when I tell them I’m suffering. The pain is hard enough to deal with; when you also have to suffer the indignity of not being believed about that pain, it’s so much worse. I’m doing this because I want others who are dealing with POTS to know that they aren’t alone.” – Abby Stratton
Our clients often say that one of the most frustrating things about POTS is that you often appear to other people to be fine, but you feel anything but. This disparity makes it hard for other people to understand what someone with POTS is going through.
Since every patient is different, it is critical that you consult with a doctor who is skilled in treating autonomic disorders. Some of the most common ways reported to treat POTS include:
- Increase fluid intake to 2-3 liters each day.
- Increase salt consumption to 3,000 mg to 10,000 mg per day.
- Wear compression stockings.
- Raise the head of the bed to conserve blood volume.
- Reclined exercises, including rowing, riding a recumbent bike, and swimming.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Avoid substances and situations that exacerbate orthostatic symptoms.
- Use certain medications to improve symptoms.
Some of the medications used to treat POTS include the following:
- Beta Blockers
Resources for People with POTS
Unfortunately, living with POTS can be challenging. However, building a strong support system can make all the difference in your quality of life.
*Our listing of these groups and doctors is not an endorsement and is for informational purposes only.
Facebook and Other Groups:
- POTSibilities Parents
- Dysautonomia International California Support Group
- Children’s Health Defense
- Dysautonomia Support Network
- Dysautonomia Support Meetup groups around the world
- HPV Vaccine Survivor
- POTS Support Group
- POTS and Dysautonomia Support Groups and Feeling Alone
- SaneVax, Inc. - The First International HPV Vaccine Information Clearinghouse
- The Canary Party - Gardasil Injury: Not a Coincidence
- Dr. Jill Schofield –Recipient of the Dysautonomia Support Network Patient’s Choice Game Changer Award in 2019
We also recommend anyone who believes they were harmed after the HPV vaccine to review our Gardasil Injury Compensation Guide. We created this guide as a resource to help people better understand their legal rights if they choose to pursue a claim for their post-Gardasil injuries.
This web page contains links to websites owned and operated by third parties. This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Wisner Baumdoes not take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
A Gardasil Lawyer Can Help
Here at Wisner Baum, our attorneys represent people who have been harmed by HPV vaccine side effects. If you or a family member suffered an adverse reaction after receiving a Gardasil injection, it is in your best interest to reach out to an experienced attorney to discuss the potential of a Gardasil shot lawsuit.
Our team at Wisner Baum is examining Gardasil lawsuit claims based on the following side effects after the Gardasil shot (or shots):
- Auto-immune disorders
- Chronic fatigue syndromes
- Chronic pain syndromes, including Chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
- Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP)
- Movement disorders
- Neurological disorders
- Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)
- Reproductive disorders, including premature ovarian failure (POF)
- Small fiber neuropathy
If you or your family member has suffered side effects after Gardasil, we would be interested to hear your story. You may be eligible for compensation in a Gardasil lawsuit.
At Wisner Baum, we have successfully litigated against many of the most pervasive pharmaceutical companies across the globe, securing justice and maximum compensation on behalf of our clients. Along all areas of practice, we have won over $4 billion in settlements and verdicts.
Contact our office by calling (855) 948-5098 or submitting an online contact form today to schedule your free consultation with one of our skilled Gardasil lawsuit attorneys.