File photo: Experts say the vaccine is safe and is regularly reviewed. Picture: AP

London - A girl of 13 has been left feeling like she has "an 80-year-old’s body" after developing a heart condition that her parents believe was triggered by the cervical cancer jab.

Zara Beattie had been very active and enjoyed playing football and netball.

But after having the injection, she was diagnosed with postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS), which causes the heart to race after sitting up or standing.

Zara suffers from pain and exhaustion, cannot leave the house without a wheelchair and is now home-schooled.

Experts say the vaccine is safe and is regularly reviewed.

But Zara’s mother Anthea, a 49-year-old nurse, and her engineer husband Ian, 54, are convinced the jab is to blame.

The HPV (human papilloma virus) injection has been offered to girls aged 12 or 13 since 2008, and the NHS believes it saves 400 lives a year.

Zara had the vaccine, Gardasil, at school in October 2015. Three months later she began struggling for breath in a PE lesson and her health deteriorated.

Just sitting up to eat leaves her exhausted and she spends all day at home unless she has a hospital appointment.

She has been treated for PoTS at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary. Doctors are unable to say what caused it, but Mrs Beattie, of Wigton, Cumbria, said: "I have been a nurse for 30 years and I have never heard or seen anything like this. There are so many young girls now who are in the same position. I don’t believe it is a coincidence.

"Zara was very fit. She was full of life. Now all that has changed. She has horrendous heart palpitations and horrific pain – chest pain, severe headaches and sometimes whole body pain.

"On a bad day the poor girl can’t even stand up.

"She said to me, 'I would rather be dead'. She is 13 and she said, 'I feel like somebody put me in an 80-year-old’s body'. Everything is so much effort for her – she has no energy."

Zara, who had to stop going to The Nelson Thomlinson School in Wigton, said the pain feels like being "hit on the back with a hammer", adding: "I worry about the future. My friends are choosing their GCSEs. I don’t know how I’m going to be in five minutes let alone five years. It has changed everything."

The Beatties are one of 400 families who have joined the UK Association of HPV Vaccine Injured Daughters, a support group that claims the jab has caused serious health issues.

Public Health England (PHE) said the World Health Organisation, the US Centre for Disease Control, the European Medicines Regulator and UK experts have "extensively reviewed the vaccine’s safety".

In March, PHE and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said there was "no credible evidence" of a link between the injection and a range of chronic illnesses, adding: "The safety of the HPV vaccine is under constant review. Every report of a suspected side effect is taken seriously."