POT syndrome definition and facts*

  • POTS is a condition characterized by too little blood returning to the heart when moving from a lying down to a standing up position.
  • Symptoms can include fainting, dizziness, or lightheadedness when standing up from a reclining position.
  • The reduced blood flow to the heart causes the heart rate to increase (tachycardia).
  • About 70%-80% of people affected by POTS are women between the ages of 15 and 50.
  • The cause of POTS is poorly understood.
  • Symptoms often begin after major surgery, trauma, or a viral illness.
  • Some women may develop the condition after pregnancy, or the symptoms may worsen before the menstrual period.
  • Treatment involves relieving low blood volume or regulating any circulatory problems. There is not one single treatment that has been found to be effective for all patients.
  • Sometimes, changes like adding extra salt to the diet and maintaining adequate fluid intake are often effective for symptom relief.

What is postural tachycardia syndrome?

Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is one of a group of disorders that have orthostatic intolerance (OI) as their primary symptom. OI describes a condition in which an excessively reduced volume of blood returns to the heart after an individual stands up from a lying down position.

Who gets POT syndrome?

Anyone at any age can develop POTS, but the majority of individuals affected (between 75 and 80 percent) are women between the ages of 15 to 50 years of age.

Some women report an increase in episodes of POTS right before their menstrual periods. POTS often begins after a pregnancy, major surgery, trauma, or a viral illness. It may make individuals unable to exercise because the activity brings on fainting spells or dizziness.

What causes POT syndrome?

Doctors aren’t sure yet what causes the reduced return of blood to the heart that occurs in OI, or why the heart begins to beat so rapidly in POTS. Current thinking is that there are a number of mechanisms. Some patients have peripheral denervation (neuropathic POTS); some have symptoms that are due to sustained or parosyxmal overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system (hyperadrenergic POTS); and some individuals have PTOS dominated by features of deconditioning.

What are the signs and symptoms of POT syndrome?

The primary symptom of OI is lightheadedness or fainting. In POTS, the lightheadedness or fainting is also accompanied by a rapid increase in heartbeat of more than 30 beats per minute, or a heart rate that exceeds 120 beats per minute, within 10 minutes of rising. The faintness or lightheadedness of POTS are relieved by lying down again.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/14/2017

Next: Is there any treatment?