Dysautonomia is a recognized manifestation in patients with joint hypermobility (JH) disorders. Symptoms can be highly debilitating and commonly include physical deconditioning and poor aerobic fitness. In this study, the prevalence of dysautonomia, range of associated symptoms, patient-reported physical activity levels, and echocardiographic features were assessed retrospectively in a cohort of 144 patients (94% female) with hypermobile Ehlers–Danlos syndrome (hEDS) or hypermobility spectrum disorder (HSD). Echocardiographic parameters of left ventricular size and function were compared between patients with and without dysautonomia as well as to reported values from healthy controls. Dysautonomia was identified in 65% of female and 44% of male subjects and was associated with a high burden of symptomatology, most commonly exercise intolerance (78%). Exercise capacity was limited by dysautonomia, often postural symptoms, in half of all patients. We observed a reduction in physical activity following the onset or significant flare of hEDS/HSD, most strikingly noting the proportion of dysautonomic patients with sedentary lifestyle, which increased from 44% to 85%. JH-related dysautonomia was associated with smaller cardiac chamber sizes, consistent with the previous reports in positional orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. Dysautonomia is prevalent in patients with hEDS/HSD, and exercise intolerance is a key feature and leads to drastic decline in physical activity. Unfavorable cardiac geometry may underlie dysautonomia symptoms and may be due to cardiac atrophy in the setting of aerobic deconditioning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3754-3761
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics, Part A
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • dysautonomia
  • echocardiography
  • exercise
  • hypermobile Ehlers–Danlos syndrome
  • hypermobility spectrum disorders


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