A diagnosis of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome shouldn't be given or taken lightly. While the syndrome itself isn't particularly life-threatening, it can severely limit the quality of living. More importantly, finding the root cause of the syndrome can be challenging and frustrating for both you and your primary care physician as several things can cause the syndrome. Because of this, it's important to get a referral to someone who specializes in postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, POTS for short. Here's what you need to know.
1. What is POTS?
By definition, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome is a rapid heartbeat caused by a change in body position to an upright posture. Basically, when someone with POTS stands up from sitting down or lying flat, their heart rate increases by more than 30 beats per minute. Additionally, some may also have a significant increase in blood pressure upon standing while others may have a significant drop in blood pressure after several minutes of standing.
The heartbeat is believed to increase as the body's natural response to a decrease in blood flow from the blood pooling in the lower extremities. The reduced blood flow to the brain can cause dizziness while the rapid increase in heart rate can cause a "fight or flight" adrenaline rush.
2. What is the typical treatment?
Typically, treatment for POTS patients begins with a combination of medication, salt, hydration, and compression stockings. The combination of these things can help improve your blood pressure and heart rate. Additionally, lifestyle changes can make a huge difference as well, such as slowly changing positions and sleeping on an incline instead of a flat position.
3. What can cause POTS?
POTS is a heterogeneous syndrome, which means that there are many possible causes for this particular medical condition. A syndrome is a group of symptoms that indicate there is a specific medical condition yet without an easily understood direct cause. When many possible causes can cause a group of symptoms, the symptoms may present differently from one patient to the next and, therefore, treatments may be different as well.
Possible causes of POTS include things such as viral illnesses, bacterial infections, head trauma, pregnancy, puberty, genetic mutations, structural problems at the head/neck junction. Because of this, it's important to be thoroughly evaluated by a POTS syndrome doctor right away and follow the treatment plan prescribed to you while you undergo the evaluation process.