What is postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome?

Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome

What happens when you have postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)?

With POTS, the body does not control the heart rate as it should after you stand up. The change in heart rate happens within 10 minutes of standing up. This leads to symptoms such as dizziness, palpitations, trembling, or weakness. It's not known exactly why symptoms happen.

People with severe symptoms may find it hard to keep up with daily living. But treatment can help.

What are the symptoms of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)?

Soon after you stand up, you may have symptoms such as:

  • A fast, pounding heartbeat (palpitations).
  • Trembling, dizziness, weakness, or lightheadedness.
  • Feeling faint or very tired.

With POTS, you may also have problems with:

  • Blurred vision, headaches, nausea, and diarrhea.
  • Trouble sleeping and feeling anxious.
  • Keeping your attention focused.

Symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Some things can make symptoms worse. These include heat, menstrual cycle, dehydration, alcohol, exercise, and standing for a long time.

When you first notice symptoms, lying down may help you feel better.

How is postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) treated?

Work with your doctor to find the right mix of treatments to help relieve symptoms and improve your quality of life. Treatment may include taking medicine prescribed by your doctor. For some people, taking medicine that affects blood pressure can help. Taking medicine that keeps the body's fluids balanced may also help.

How is postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) diagnosed?

To learn what is causing your symptoms, your doctor may:

  • Ask about your symptoms, including when and how they started.
  • Check how your blood pressure and heart rate change when you move from lying down to sitting to standing.
  • Do blood tests.
  • Check your heart with an electrocardiogram (EKG).

You may have other tests such as a tilt table test. This test checks how your body responds when you change positions.

How can you care for yourself when you have postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)?

Take any medicines as prescribed. Drink plenty of fluids. Eat the amount of salt that your doctor recommends. Keep track of your symptoms and what makes them better or worse. Follow your specialized exercise program if the doctor prescribed one. Wear compression stockings if your doctor recommends them.

What causes postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)?

Experts don't understand what causes it, but different body systems seem to be out of balance. POTS may follow certain triggers such as a viral illness, a surgery, or pregnancy.

What is postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)?

Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is a fast heart rate (tachycardia) that starts after you stand up. This can cause symptoms such as dizziness or weakness.

Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS): When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness), and it feels different than your typical episode or you don't recover as quickly as you have in the past.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your symptoms are getting worse. For example, you are more dizzy or lightheaded.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.

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