Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome

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Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome aka POTS aka postural tachycardia syndrome is a condition in which a change from the supine position (lying horizontally) to an upright position causes an abnormally large increase in heart rate, called tachycardia. Other symptoms of an orthostatic nature — occurring in response to upright posture — may accompany the tachycardia.[1] It is a form of orthostatic intolerance (OI). Accompanying the heart rate acceleration, other symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, sweating, nausea, fainting and dizziness may occur. POTS is associated with an increase in heart rate from the lying to upright position of greater than 30 beats per minute, or a heart rate of greater than 120 beats per minute within 10 minutes of standing.[2]

Signs and symptoms[edit | edit source]

Testing[edit | edit source]

Assessing orthostatic blood pressure can be done in a physician's office by measuring the patient's blood pressure while lying down, sitting, and standing at standardized time increments. Dr. Lucinda Bateman uses a modified orthostatic blood pressure assessment called the NASA 10-minute Lean Test, a variant of a test used by NASA researchers to test for orthostatic intolerance following space flight. The NASA 10-minute Lean Test in less taxing on the patient and can be done in any physician's office. Instructions are available for printout for both healthcare providers and patients.[3]

If the results of the standard orthostatic blood pressure assessment are inconclusive, a tilt table test can be used for diagnosis.[4]

Diagnosis[edit | edit source]

Treatment[edit | edit source]

A 2012 study Diagnosis and management of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome: A brief review concluded:


The pathophysiology of POTS is complex and the result of a number of separate mechanisms producing a common pattern of symptoms. The large number of clinical manifesttations that characterize this disorder and the wide range of medications available, plus the clear evidence that certain medications and treatment strategies work in some, but not all POTS patients, demonstrates that POTS is a range of disorders requiring comprehensive investigation and characterisation to guide selection of the most appropriate treatment. The recent consensus statement will help to direct further research into the underlying conditions that lead to POTS.
The following treatments were identified:

Things to avoid[edit | edit source]

  • Active constituents of medical marijuana cause a drop in blood pressure and other symptoms associated with postural hypotension. It is therefore recommended that POTS patients avoid marijuana. However, there are some positive anecdotal reports from patients regarding medical marijuana use.

Related conditions[edit | edit source]

ME/CFS[edit | edit source]

POTS can be a co-morbid condition in ME/CFS patients.[6] In a 2008 study done in the UK by the Northern CFS/ME Clinical Network, using the Fukuda criteria, 27% of the study population had POTS compared with 9% in the control population.The researchers concluded:"POTS is a frequent finding in patients with CFS/ME. We suggest that clinical evaluation of patients with CFS/ME should include response to standing. Studies are needed to determine the optimum intervention strategy to manage POTS in those with CFS/ME."[7]

A 2011 study, by the Vanderbilt Autonomic Dysfunction Center (Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, U.S.A.), reported that 64% of the POTS population in the study also met the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome.[8]

The proposed SEID criteria has OI as a symptom but it is not necessary for a diagnosis as it is not always present. If the patient does not have OI they would have to have Cognitive Impairment (Cognitive dysfunction) to meet SEID criteria.

The diagnosis of POTS alone does not automatically support a ME/CFS diagnosis and cannot be used as a diagnostic biomarker to determine ME/CFS. POTS can occur independent from ME/CFS, and, likewise, ME/CFS can occur without the symptomatology of POTS. A September 2016 study in the Netherlands by Roerink, et al, found that patients with CFS who fulfilled the SEID criteria did not have a prevalence of POTS different from that in the overall CFS population. In adults with CFS, the prevalence of POTS was low, between 6% - 18% (depending on age), was not different from the rate in non-CFS fatigued patients and was not related to disease severity or treatment outcome.[9]

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome[edit | edit source]

Studies[edit | edit source]

Learn more[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Neuronal and hormonal perturbations in postural tachycardia syndrome
  5. Diagnosis and management of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome: A brief review - Journal of Geriatric Cardiology - NCBI
  6. POTS in ME/CFS - youtube
  7. [Hoad A, Spickett G, Elliott J, Newton J. (2008). Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome is an under-recognized condition in chronic fatigue syndrome. QJM, 101(12):961-5. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hcn123. Retrieved from]
  8. Okamoto, L. E., Raj, S. R., Peltier, A., Gamboa, A., Shibao, C., Diedrich, A., . . . Biaggioni, I. (2011). Neurohumoral and haemodynamic profile in postural tachycardia and chronic fatigue syndromes. Clinical Science, 122(4), 183-192. doi:10.1042/CS20110200 Retrieved from
  9. 9.0 9.1 Roerink, M. E.; Lenders, J. W.; Schmits, I. C.; Pistorius, A. M.; Smit, J. W.; Knoop, H.; van der Meer, J. W. M. (2016), "Postural orthostatic tachycardia is not a useful diagnostic marker for chronic fatigue syndrome", Journal of Internal Medicine, doi:10.1111/joim.12564, PMID 27696568 
  10. Strassheim, V; Welford, J; Ballantine, R; Newton, JL (2018), "Managing fatigue in postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS): The Newcastle approach.", Autonomic Neuroscience, doi:10.1016/j.autneu.2018.02.003 
  11. Reynolds, GK; Lewis, Donald P; Richardson, AM; Lidbury, Brett A (April 2014), "Comorbidity of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome in an Australian cohort", Journal of Internal Medicine, Volume 275, Issue 4: 409–417, doi:10.1111/joim.12161, PMID 24206536 
  12. Ross, A. J.; Medow, M. S.; Rowe, P. C.; Stewart, J. M. (2013), "What is brain fog? An evaluation of the symptom in postural tachycardia syndrome.", Clinical Autonomic Research : Official Journal of the Clinical Autonomic Research Society, 23 (6): 305–311, doi:10.1007/s10286-013-0212-z 
  13. Hoad, A.; Spickett, Gavin; Elliott, J.; Newton, Julia (2008), "Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome is an under-recognized condition in chronic fatigue syndrome.", QJM: monthly journal of the Association of Physicians, 101 (12): 961-5, doi:10.1093/qjmed/hcn123, PMID 18805903 

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From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history