Does Your Heart Rate Increase when Standing Up? Expert Advice for Managing Postural Tachycardia Orthostatic Syndrome
If you’ve been searching for how to treat POTS, you can ease the symptoms and improve your health by understanding the condition and some of the triggers. Many people try to treat the symptoms without fully understanding the best ways to manage the condition as well as they can. Our guide offers a lifeline to those who are finding the symptoms of POTS incredibly debilitating, especially if they change from day to day.
POTS stands for ‘Postural Tachycardia Orthostatic Syndrome’ which occurs when the involuntary (or autonomic) nervous system responds abnormally when a person stands up. You may be officially diagnosed with the condition if you experience a specific group of symptoms in a standing or upright position which are relieved once you’re lying down. These symptoms must be associated with a heart rate which is abnormally high and persistently increases by 30 beats per minute within ten minutes of standing up. The rate will be higher for those of 18 and under (40 beats per minute). While it’s sometimes more prevalent in those who experience low blood pressure (BP), POTS isn’t normally associated with a drop in BP. POTS is more common in women aged between 13 and 50.
The exact cause of POTS is unknown, but it can develop in the presence of other diseases or circumstances where there has been a malfunction in the nervous system controlling the autonomic functions in the human body. This means that upon standing, where the blood vessels usually contract to maintain the blood supply to both the brain and heart, this adjustment doesn’t happen correctly. This results in the heart rate increasing excessively which can be very frightening.
How to Treat POTS – What We Know
- It’s important we look for better ways for how to treat POTS because there are a wide variety of symptoms that can have a negative effect on people’s lives.
- Symptoms of POTS include fainting (and dizziness), heart palpitations, headaches, tiredness, shakiness, brain fog, anxiety, tunnel vision, gut problems, sleep issues, chest pains, sweating, bladder problems and purple skin discolouration on hands and feet.
- When trying to find the best methods for how to treat POTS, it’s important to note your triggers.
- Triggers for POTS may include excessive heat, eating refined carbohydrates (e.g. white flour or sugar), standing quickly, dehydration, menstruating, the time of day, prolonged bed rest, alcohol, excessive exercise, after operations or even a viral illness. Everyone is different.
- It’s important to remember when looking at how to treat POTS that sometimes the existing ways you’re managing the condition could be making it worse. This is the case where people prefer to spend most of their time lying or sitting down to avoid symptoms.
- If looking for how to treat POTS, it’s important to get an official diagnosis from a specialist, in case there are other reasons for your symptoms. A cardiologist who knows about this condition will have the patience to explore what’s happening to you.
- The three main aims when deciding how to treat POTS is increasing your blood volume, reducing the excessive rise in heart rate and improving how well your blood vessels can squeeze the blood (particularly in the legs).
- You can increase your blood volume when exploring how to treat POTS by increasing your fluid intake (water), salt intake and your doctor may even suggest taking fludrocortisone. You can also reduce blood volume losses by avoiding diuretics such as caffeine. You should also avoid hot rooms which can cause dehydration.
- Another popular method for how to treat POTS is by lowering the heart rate through the use of prescribed medications such as a low dose of beta blockers.
- One of the most important aspects of how to treat POTS is exercise, particularly to build up the tone in the legs again, helping push blood up to the brain. While you may find this difficult when suffering from POTS, you can choose exercises which can be completed in non-standing positions such as rowing machines, swimming and cycling to regain your muscle tone.
Problems with Diagnosing the Condition
While first recognised in medical journals over 25 years ago, unfortunately, many medical professionals remain unaware of the condition. This is very unhelpful for sufferers who may need help. The result can be a struggle to get your voice heard by a doctor, and many feel frustrated over the lack of diagnosis for the condition. In fact, some patients are even misdiagnosed as having anxiety and depression, chronic fatigue syndrome or reflex syncope which may have overlapping symptoms with POTS. This can leave patients feeling let down and pretty scared by the symptoms they’re facing alone.
Finding a Specialist Doctor
The first step in treating POTS is to speak to a doctor who understands POTS and will reassure you, finding a treatment plan that will help you change your life for the better. If you would like to speak to a consultant cardiologist, Dr Sanjay Gupta is happy to talk through what’s been happening to you.
Dr Gupta works in York but offers a range of flexible options when booking a consultation. This includes private consultations, telephone consultations and webcam consultations. He’ll talk through the symptoms you’ve been experiencing and give you an honest opinion about what he thinks the next steps should be, whether that’s tests, treatment or an in-person consultation.
The most important thing when looking at how to treat POTS is not to lose hope. It can take time trying to get a diagnosis, but a Doctor who understands the condition can help you as quickly as possible to find a management plan which works for you.
Book a consultation with Dr Gupta now to discuss POTS.