What Is Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), And How Is It Treated?

Question: What is postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), could it be causing my symptoms such as fatigue, and how is it treated?

Answer :This is another one of these long academic words. What it really means is that if patients get up, they frequently either become a little bit light headed or dizzy, and sometimes the blood pressure drops. And this is a whole family of different syndrome -- POTS is one of them. And what is specific about POTS is that it frequently occurs in the younger people, somewhere in the range of 15 to 45. And interesting enough it also has a predilection for women, so it occurs more in women.

And what it is characterized by is if people stand up their heart rate goes up, so their pulse, if they measure it, would speed up quite rapidly, but the blood pressure stays stable. And what people have the symptoms associated with that is fatigue, as you mentioned, lightheadedness, dizziness, some people see blurry spots, some people even feel some kind of cramping in the stomach, and occasionally people even can pass out.

The whole group and POTS, again for treatment, is sometimes a little bit difficult. And first we start out with conservative treatments, such as we give people a little more fluid to drink -- we want to make sure we avoid dehydration. And we also then as a second line, we can start medications that tries to counteract this increase of a fast heart rate and then hopefully can improve some of those symptoms. But it is sometimes difficult to treat them and to make the patients completely free of symptoms in the long run.