According to a story from CNN, Nick Foles, who plays for the Philadelphia Eagles, helped lead the team to victory at the Super Bowl, and was awarded MVP for the game. However, one of Nick’s greatest sources of motivation is his wife Tori, who has a form of dysautonomia known as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). Diagnosis of the disease was a difficult process, and doctors initially thought that she had a viral infection.
What is POTS?
POTS is a condition that is characterized by an abrupt increase in heart rate when the patient changes from a lying position to a standing one. The cause of POTS is not well understood in all cases and can vary considerably. In some cases, it can appear as a complication related to another illness. About 50 percent of cases of POTS are associated with a recent viral infection. Other risks include low blood volume, chronic fatigue syndrome, and deconditioning during recovery from another illness. Symptoms include fatigue, sleep problems, fainting, acrocyanosis, blurred vision, cognitive problems, palpitations, light-headedness, and headaches. Treatment involves a variety of medications (used off label), and lifestyle changes such as staying hydrated, increased salt intake, avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and prolonged exercise, and eating food in small portions. To learn more about POTS, click here.
Nick and Tori have recently appeared publicly to spread awareness and discuss living with POTS. They recently spoke at Dysautonomia International’s 6th Annual Conference in June. The prevalence of POTS is not well known, but it could affect up to three million people in the US. Nick has also dedicated a chapter in his recent book to discussing Tori’s experiences living with POTS. She was first diagnosed with the condition at age 23.
The condition can be difficult to detect without monitoring the changes to heart rate that occur when changing position; her doctor initially asked if she was dealing with anxiety or depression. However, the diagnosis was clear when her heart rate skyrocketed by 40 beats per minute after the doctor asked her to change to a standing position. It can take years for patients to get accurately diagnosed with POTS.
While some patients can be completely debilitated by POTS and are unable to function well by themselves, Tori has been able to get control over her symptoms by staying hydrated, eating well, getting exercise, meditating, and getting plenty of sleep. For Nick, the experience has helped them maintain a healthy perspective.
“Football is down the list because we have our priorities straight.”
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