Study Findings May Make it Easier to Diagnose POTS

According to a story from UToledo News, a recent study conducted as the school’s College of Medicine and Life Sciences may make it easier for postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) to be diagnosed. The findings also suggest that the condition may be autoimmune in origin. Some studies suggest that as many as 3 million Americans may be affected by POTS, but difficulties in diagnosis makes it hard to identify patients.

About Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)

Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (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.

Making Diagnosis Easier

The difficulty with POTS is that it is primarily diagnosed based on clinical signs, which can vary from person to person. However, this study could make diagnosis as simple as taking a blood test. The reason diagnosis could become so much simpler is because of a stunning revelation uncovered by the study: as many as 89 percent of patients present with abnormally high levels of adrenergic alpha 1 receptor autoantibodies. This is nearly a sure sign that POTS originates due to an autoimmune mechanism, at least most of the time.

These autoantibodies could play a critical role as a POTS biomarker. In theory, if a patient is experiencing symptoms associated with POTS, a blood test that could detect elevated levels of this autoantibody could decisively confirm the diagnosis. While more research will help solidify these findings, which also have significant implications for the treatment of the condition, the discovery represents a significant advancement in the understanding of this disorder.

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