POTS (Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome), which is distinct from neurocardiogenic syncope, is a condition of dysautonomia characterized by increased heart rate when moving from lying down to standing. Patients experience dizziness, nausea, palpitations, heat, fatigue, and blackouts.
By encouraging proper function of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), the body is able to respond appropriately to changes in position by regulating vascular tone and heart rate appropriately.
The Link to Neurodegenerative Diseases
POTS is most commonly found in young adult women. It is often associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. It can also be seen in patients with other neurodegenerative diseases such as MS, ALS, and Parkinson’s, making it difficult to diagnose. Many do not realize that the POTS symptom complex is the cause of their lightheadedness and blackouts until after treatment.
Patients may be diagnosed with “pure” POTS, meaning no additional underlying neurodegenerative disease. Dysautonomia is consistently present with typical symptoms including fatigue, sleep disturbances, altered cognitive function (brain fog), cold or heat intolerance, and headaches upon awakening. Some patients also experience bladder or bowel dysfunction.
Physicians typically treat POTS/neurocardiogenic syncope by prescribing vasoconstrictors to help increase vascular tone and dampen the effects of tachycardia. The main difficulty with these medications with respect to this condition is that the symptoms of dysautonomia are not addressed or worsened. For example, beta-blockers can slow the heart rate but have side effect of increasing fatigue.
Moving Beyond Traditional Treatments
Our practice is one of the few Integrative Medicine clinics focusing on autonomic dysfunction. Working to restore balance and function to the systems of the body we can help our patients overcome challenging symptoms.
While it is yet unclear if POTS/neurocardiogenic syncope is progressive, autonomic dysfunction appears to be progressive. When the ANS can no longer keep the body regulated and in optimal condition, over time damage to various organ systems is inevitable. For this reason, we believe that early intervention is advantageous.
If you are a patient or know someone with POTS/neurocardiogenic syncope and are interested in more information on TVAM, please contact us toll free at (844) 247-2728 or (949) 247-8877.