WTH is POTS?

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In the last post, I talked about the tilt table and my diagnosis of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. Basically it means when you stand up, your pulse shoots up and doesn’t go back down until you do. The diagnostic criteria says that within 10 minutes of standing up, your pulse must increase by (and stay at) at least 30 beats or more per minute OR stay at 120+ bpm while standing. Mine does both. A lot of people with POTS experience passing out (syncope)… I guess I’m fortunate that I don’t. I have near-syncope – I get a warning that I need to sit or lay down pretty quickly. My vision starts graying out and I see spots, get shaky, and feel really warm. My blood pressure, despite being pretty low generally, doesn’t drop (orthostatic hypotension). Mine goes up a bit and I think I have that to thank for not passing out.
IMG_6567*Laying down vs Standing (10 minutes apart): Top two numbers are blood pressure, bottom is pulse.

There are medications used to treat POTS symptoms (I’ll save medications for another day) but the first recommendations are generally to increase your salt and fluid intake and use compression stockings. People with POTS often have hypovolemia (low blood volume) and/or blood pooling in the lower extremities while standing. The salt and fluids are to try to raise blood volume and the compression stockings are to push the blood up so it can have a better chance of getting where it’s needed (the brain).

Many people with POTS rely on Gatorade and salty foods. I’m not knocking that, it’s just not for me. I’m a bit of a hippie freak – that’s what my husband lovingly calls me anyways – so for awhile I’ve been drinking coconut water (natural electrolytes) and eating pink himalayan salt rocks throughout the day. Long before my official diagnosis, I started doing this. With all of my symptoms and doing a poor man’s tilt at home with my BP cuff (and handy index, middle finger, and carotid artery) I was sure I had some form of Dysautonomia, most likely POTS.

10 Facts to Know About POTS

For a little humor… This video is pretty much what it’s like going to the hospital or doctor’s office with POTS/Dysautonomia.

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