Basingstoke Team Parish

What is PoTS?

  • Postural          position of the body
  • Tachycardia   increased heart rate
  • Syndrome     a combination of symptoms

Postural tachycardia syndrome is an abnormality of the functioning of the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system. To be diagnosed with PoTS, an individual must experience a group of symptoms in the upright position (usually standing) that are relieved by lying down. A persistent increase in heart rate of 30 beats per minute (40 bpm if under 19 years of age) should be recorded within ten minutes of standing. Blood pressure (BP) does not always drop in PoTS.

Patients can be very disabled by their symptoms.  Fortunately, for many patients, symptoms will improve with a combination of life style changes and medication.  However some will have problems over many years.
Many health care professionals do not know that PoTS exists and so may not think of the diagnosis.  If you think you may have this condition, it may help to take a printout of information from this website to your appointment.

The Autonomic Nervous System

The Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS) is an abnormality of the autonomic nervous system (sometimes called ‘dysautonomia’). The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is in charge of all bodily functions that we don’t have to think about, such as:

  • Heart rate and blood pressure regulation
  • Digestion
  • Bladder control
  • Sweating
  • Stress response

The sympathetic nervous system is part of the autonomic nervous system. It produces the ‘fight or flight’ or ‘stress’ response. When activated, a chemical called norepinephrine is released. Amongst other things, this causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.

What should happen to my blood when I stand up?

When a healthy person stands up, blood vessels contract and heart rate increases slightly to maintain blood supply to heart and brain.

What happens when I have PoTS and stand up?you know you have pots when

In PoTS, this automatic adjustment to upright posture is not working correctly, resulting in an excessive rise in heart rate, increased norepinephrine in the blood and altered blood flow to the brain.

Written by: PoTS UK Team
Medically approved by: Dr John Purvis and Dr Satish Raj
Updated: 1/2/2015
Review date: 1/2/2018
Version 4