Hypermobility describes the ability to move your joints beyond the normal range of movement.
Joint hypermobility is very common and may just be present in a few joints – for many, hypermobility can be seen as advantageous and most experience no negative medical consequences.
However, for some, hypermobility can result in joint and ligament strain and injuries, pain, fatigue and, more rarely, be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.
Known as Hypermobility Syndromes or Heritable Disorders of Connective Tissue (HDCT), they can have significant consequences, and many can affect the heart and vascular system.
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) affects the connective tissues that support our joints, muscles, skin and even organs. Distinct variations of EDS affect the body differently and two rare types of EDS can cause heart problems.
Cardiac-valvular EDS (cvEDS) affects the connective tissue that forms the heart valves. As these valves control blood flow, sufferers can experience high blood pressure as they progressively weaken. Vascular EDS (vEDS) have weakened blood vessels.
Hypermobile Syndrome and hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS) are often associated with a malfunctioning of the nervous system that controls bodily functions. Postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS) is identified as a sustained increase in heart rate and high blood pressure.
A recent study found that half of patient with these conditions met the diagnostic criteria for PoTS and a similar study found that 50% of patients with PoTS also had a diagnosis of hypermobility.
Arrhythmia is a problem with the heart rhythm. Your heartbeat is controlled by electrical impulses. If these malfunction the heart can begin to beat in an abnormal way; too quickly, too slowly or with an irregular rhythm.
More than two million people in the UK are believed to have some kind of arrhythmia. Most are able to lead a normal life, providing they have a proper diagnosis. However, atrial fibrillation makes you five times more likely to have a stroke. And. certain types of arrhythmia in people with severe heart conditions can lead sudden cardiac death.
For this reason, if you have any of the symptoms associated with possible arrhythmia you should see your doctor to have a proper diagnosis. If it is confirmed that you have arrhythmia, there are many different treatments available.
Marfan syndrome is an inherited disorder that affects the body’s connective tissues and patients typically present with joint hypermobility. It can also cause the walls of the aorta to weaken, resulting in an aneurysm, which can be fatal.
Mast cells from part of the body’s immune response and help us fight infections. Mast Cell Activation syndrome (MCAS) can occur, though, when the mast cells release too many chemicals known as mediators at the wrong time, causing an allergic response.
This can result in a range of symptoms as it affects almost every system in the body. The skin, eyes, nose, mouth and throat can start to itch and swell. You can also experience trouble breathing, diarrhoea, nausea, headaches, dizziness and extreme tiredness. The heart is often affected, causing low blood pressure and a rapid heart rate.
Lifestyle changes and medication can help manage symptoms. Regular heart scans with an electrocardiogram can evaluate the health of the heart valves and valve replacement surgery can be performed if required.