Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is a heart rate that accelerates when you stand up. This condition can take effect up to 10 minutes after standing up. This condition prevents the body from controlling blood pressure and heart rate as it normally would, stopping blood from getting to the brain. This often results in dizziness and the feeling of being lightheaded. Some patients faint when this happens, and sitting or lying down helps relieve the sensation. For many people suffering from this condition, the symptoms of POTS can make it challenging to keep up with daily living.
Here is a breakdown of each word in the name:
Aside from the rise in heart rate when standing, someone with POTS may experience a variety of additional symptoms.
Some other symptoms of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome include:
Scientists are still unsure of exactly what causes postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, but some researchers believe the condition is more likely to occur immediately after the following events:
Researchers have also identified some underlying conditions and diseases that frequently occur in people with POTS.These include the following:
Any person concerned that they have POTS should keep a detailed record of their symptoms. To get a diagnosis for postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, you will need to see your doctor. You can review the symptoms with them and they will likely assess your overall health to confirm your condition. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may refer you to a cardiologist or neurologist for additional testing to see if you meet the diagnostic criteria for POTS.
Diagnosis may include a tilt table test, electrocardiogram (ECG), or an active stand test. To get a confirmed diagnosis, you must have symptoms of orthostatic intolerance and meet the following criteria below:
Treatments for POTS may vary for each patient, depending on the condition type, severity, and cause. When it is caused by an underlying condition like diabetes, treatment can focus on managing that specific condition. Treatment options can include the following options:
Other options for treatment include physical therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Physical therapy is generally the best treatment option out of the three. A physiotherapist can help you gradually recondition your body to function more efficiently. One of the exercises used in this kind of therapy include gentle resistance training, which strengthens the skeletal muscle pump and helps the heart to circulate blood through the body. If physical therapy and lifestyle changes are unable to relieve the symptoms, medication may be the next treatment option.
Medication is used to stabilize the patient so they can begin the reconditioning program, though it isn’t intended to be a permanent or long-term treatment.
Treatment for POTS is not intended to be permanent, but to help the patient’s body function normally again. The following diet, nutrition, and exercise tips are meant to manage and treat POTS.
To managing POTS, exercise and physical activity are vital. Here are some important tips that can help you improve your health and manage your symptoms.
Involves contracting your muscles without moving your body. Isometrics squeeze the muscle and push blood toward the heart. They are simple enough to be done lying in bed or seated in a chair. These are good exercises to perform first thing in the morning to prepare your body for sitting and standing.
For these exercises, patients are recommended to go from lying to sitting on the edge of the bed. After remaining in that position for several minutes, you can slowly stand. If you feel lightheaded at any point, wait a few minutes in that position to see if it resolves. If not, go back to the previous position, and slowly try again after a few minutes.
This walking program is designed to see how many steps you can walk without inducing symptoms. Start with walking once a day and go a little further in time, distance, or by adding steps. If you feel good, add a second walk into the day. Fitness trackers are helpful tools to monitor steps and distance. Gradually add more steps to your daily total.
Focus on breathing and perform very gentle and slow moves. This may help reduce POTS symptoms.
As you reduce your symptoms of POTS, you can slowly take on more fitness and exercise regimens while involving yourself in more physical activities.