POT Syndrome - Symptoms

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What is postural tachycardia syndrome?

Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is one of a group of disorders that have orthostatic intolerance (OI) as their primary symptom. OI describes a condition in which an excessively reduced volume of blood returns to the heart after an individual stands up from a lying down position. The primary symptom of OI is lightheadedness or fainting. In POTS, the lightheadedness or fainting is also accompanied by a rapid increase in heartbeat of more than 30 beats per minute, or a heart rate that exceeds 120 beats per minute, within 10 minutes of rising. The faintness or lightheadedness of POTS are relieved by lying down again. Anyone at any age can develop POTS, but the majority of individuals affected (between 75 and 80 percent) are women between the ages of 15 to 50 years of age. Some women report an increase in episodes of POTS right before their menstrual periods. POTS often begins after a pregnancy, major surgery, trauma, or a viral illness. It may make individuals unable to exercise because the activity brings on fainting spells or dizziness.

Doctors aren't sure yet what causes the reduced return of blood to the heart that occurs in OI, or why the heart begins to beat so rapidly in POTS. Current thinking is that there are a number of mechanisms. Some patients have peripheral denervation (neuropathic POTS); some have symptoms that are due to sustained or parosyxmal overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system (hyperadrenergic POTS); and some individuals have PTOS dominated by features of deconditioning.

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Comment from: Pat H., (Patient) Published: October 02

I think I have POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome). I have had this fainting disorder ever since I was about 18, after I gave birth. When I'm sitting and I get up and after standing for 15 minutes I get very hot and sweaty, then I have a rapid heartbeat, my ears ring, and then everything spins. I then pass out if I don't lie down first. It has happened a few times a year, but it happens quite frequently now. It's very frustrating. The doctors say that I have poor circulation. After seeing POTS, it is exactly what happens to me.

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Comment from: anne, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 15

I suddenly developed generalized lethargy and frequent dizzy spells which rapidly went on to sudden consciousness collapses, where I could still hear people but I was totally limp, heart pounding and horribly dizzy and unable to respond. My blood pressure and pulse would increase markedly. This would happen up to 6 times a day and often I would barely recover then I would have another. I would be left weak and exhausted for hours afterwards. Luckily I was put into a private hospital and had many tests, ultimately my physician came to the POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) diagnosis. I have just started on a beta blocker 3 days ago and already improving. I also have to drink 3 liters of water per day and have salt tablets. I have noticed my memory is not as good as before and I am still a bit weak but it is early days and I am hopeful of a full recovery.

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