PoTS is short for Postural Tachycardia Syndrome; previously called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome in case you were wondering where the now small ‘o’ came from!
PoTS is a form of dysautonomia. A dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system (ANS).
The autonomic nervous system is in charge of all bodily functions that we don’t have to think about, things such as our heart rate and regulating blood pressure, digestion and sweating. Most people have heard of the “fight or flight” response, this is something that comes from the autonomic nervous system.
In a person with PoTS the ANS dysfunctions and does not send the correct messages when the patient stands up. The heart then beats very quickly (tachycardia) to try to make sure that blood and oxygen get to all of the right places, and especially to the brain! This is not always enough. As a result people with PoTS often experience symptoms of light headedness, dizziness, pre-syncope (pre-fainting) and full out syncope (full faints) on standing as a result. PoTS patients who experience full faints may also have a second diagnosis of neurally mediated syncope or something similar.
Other common symptoms of PoTS include ‘brain fog’, fatigue, chest pains and palpitations, excessive or alternatively reduced sweating, insomnia, visual problems, nausea and digestive problems.
PoTS symptoms can be made much worse by warm or hot temperatures, eating, hormones, alcohol consumption, fitness and viral illnesses.
PoTS is usually managed by increasing the dietary intake of salt and fluids in an attempt to increase overall blood volume and in some cases increasing the amount of exercise the patient is doing. When this is not enough there are several medications doctors can try now. PoTS, when severe, can be very disabling and make even sitting up incredibly hard work never mind standing up!
For more information on PoTS visit www.potsuk.org