Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, commonly called POTS, is a blood circulation disorder. It causes a rapid heart rate when moving from a seated to a standing position.
This increase in heart rate may be uncomfortable and, upon standing, can cause:
When POTS symptoms are severe, they can impact your quality of life.
The team at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has expertise in diagnosing and managing POTS and other heart and vein conditions.
To request an appointment, contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute:
POTS stands for:
In a healthy person, the autonomic nervous system (ANS) controls involuntary actions in your body like:
When changing position, such as sitting or standing, the heart rate must increase and blood vessels must tighten. This lets blood pump against the forces of gravity and keeps your circulation moving at a normal pace.
POTS is an abnormal response to your ANS, causing most of your blood to stay in your lower body when you stand.
With POTS, this malfunction in the ANS can cause:
These symptoms occur because your heart must beat even faster to get blood to the brain and rest of the body.
POTS affects between 1 to 3 million Americans, 80% of whom are female.
With the right treatment, symptoms will often improve.
There are three main types of POTS. In some cases, they can overlap and occur at the same time.
Types of POTS include:
POTS isn't a disease. Instead, it's a group of symptoms from an underlying issue.
The symptoms happen when:
Sometimes, the exact cause of POTS isn't clear. In many cases, an existing health issue that affects the ANS can trigger POTS.
Although doctors haven't found all the underlying causes of POTS, they believe the following conditions are involved:
Some POTS symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat and sweating, are like those of anxiety disorders and panic attacks. But doctors don't think they're an underlying cause of POTS.
Anyone can get this condition, but it's more common in:
POTS is not life-threatening and will not cause heart failure, but the symptoms can impact your life.
The most severe complication of POTS is trauma or an injury from falling or fainting.
You can't prevent POTS, but you can ease symptoms by managing the underlying cause. In some cases, you may be able to prevent future episodes by making diet and lifestyle changes.
If you have symptoms, talk to your PCP. They can refer you to a specialist to find the cause and the best treatment plan.
POTS causes a range of symptoms that can vary from person to person.
Many people have only mild to moderate symptoms that have no effect on their daily lives. In some cases, symptoms can go away on their own or improve with treatments.
But for some people, symptoms can get worse over time and are severe enough to impact their quality of life.
About 25% of people who have POTS suffer disabling symptoms.
Some of the most common symptoms include:
Your symptoms may worsen if you have to stand for a long time or haven't had enough to drink. Some women report that their symptoms worsen before their period.
Talk to your doctor if you have severe symptoms or often feel like you might faint.
Your doctor may diagnose you with POTS based on your symptoms and testing.
Your doctor will check your blood pressure and heart rate while lying down and then standing for two, five, and 10 minutes.
In people with POTS, we often see the following responses:
Other tests to help confirm a POTS diagnosis include:
There's no one-size-fits-all treatment for POTS. Instead, your doctor will plan your treatment around your symptoms.
The heart and vascular specialists at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute will work with you to help lessen and control your symptoms.
Often, changes to your diet and lifestyle will effectively treat POTS.
Your doctor may advise you to:
Your doctor may also prescribe drugs to help manage POTS that: