Newcastle PoTS Day
23rd May 2017
On Friday 19th May 2017, a ‘PoTS for Patients’ event was held within the Education Centre at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle upon Tyne. Organised by the PoTS UK charity, patients were welcomed by a number of medical professionals, who attended in order to deliver informative presentations and provide expert knowledge to individuals with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome. The ‘PoTS for Patients’ event was an exceptionally well-structured and diverse event, which provided patients with a comprehensive understanding of PoTS and a chance to have their questions answered by professionals.
Among those who attended was Professor Julia Newton. Professor Newton provided the audience with an initial understanding of what PoTS is and what medical professionals know about the condition. She discussed the orthostatic intolerance involved in PoTS, described the overlap between PoTS and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and presented some interesting statistics relating to the symptoms and diagnosis of PoTS. She also discussed syncope, presyncope and dizziness, triggers of symptoms, conservative management of PoTS and the advantages of an MDT approach toward the treatment of PoTS.
Dr Nicholas Gall, a Consultant Cardiologist, also attended the event to offer expert advice concerning the management of PoTS. Dr Gall stressed the importance of investigating symptoms and excluding alternative diagnoses in order to reach a definite diagnosis of PoTS. He also noted that PoTS is not a cardiovascular condition, despite the fact that individuals commonly focus on the associated cardiac symptoms. He clarified the distinction between a disease and a syndrome and explained that PoTS is a recognisable collection of symptoms that presumably has multiple potential causes and, therefore, is difficult to treat given that the causes of PoTS may vary between individuals. He focused heavily on exercise as a method of managing PoTS and emphasised the need for persistence and realistic goal setting in order to manage PoTS effectively.
Qasim Aziz, Professor of Neurogastroentorology, presented information about the involvement of the gut in PoTS. He described the physiological mechanisms of the digestive system and explained how changes in blood flow after eating can trigger symptoms of PoTS. He also provided patients with useful information about the benefits of replacing sugary carbohydrates in their diet with protein and fat. Additionally, he discussed the importance of consuming food and drinks separately and the benefits of keeping a food diary.
Miss Jenny Welford, an Occupational Therapist from Newcastle, gave a final professional perspective at this event. Miss Welford provided patients with her expert knowledge of fatigue management which, given the overlap between PoTS and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, was an extremely valuable contribution to the ‘PoTS for patients’ event. She specified the difference between fatigue and tiredness and noted that fatigue cannot simply be treated with sleep. She focused heavily on the cognitive symptoms of PoTS, including irritability, anxiety, depression and ‘brain fog’. She also discussed the importance of conserving energy, the commitment required to manage fatigue and various methods that can be used to improve sleep. Miss Welford ended her presentation by considering the benefits of exercise and explained the detrimental effects that inactivity can have on muscle mass, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and PoTS.
As both an NHS employee and a sufferer of PoTS, I would like to express how grateful I am to the professionals that run the PoTS UK charity in their own time. Additionally, I am overwhelmed by the number of medical professionals who gave up their time in order to deliver such an informative session and provide patients with a much needed opportunity to have their questions answered. I would strongly encourage patients to attend future events organised by the PoTS UK charity. Finally, I am sure I speak on behalf of many when I say how thankful I am to PoTS UK and associated professionals who work hard to research PoTS, raise awareness of the condition and provide support to sufferers.