Friday, September 28, 2012

POTS: The Basics

I'm re-upping this, as we are almost done with the new nonprofit website, and most of my new "material" will be headed over there.  This a POTS 101 type summary, hopefully easy to understand and useful :)  ---Claire

POTS: An Overview

Postural Tachycardia Syndrome

POTS: The Basics
Find links to in depth information and resources for POTSies at on our Dysautonomia SOS website (under construction).

POTS is short for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome.   It is referred to by some physicians and researchers as Postural Tachycardia Syndrome, or just Postural Tachycardia.  It is a type of Orthostatic Intolerance, and also a type of Dysautonomia.   Let’s break down what that name means:

Postural means relating to posture, or a change in position.

Orthostatic means relating to, or caused by erect posture (standing up).

Tachycardia refers to a rapid heart rate.

Syndrome means a collection of symptoms, and not a disease.
Technically, a syndrome is defined as a group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality.

So, POTS is a collection of symptoms that result from a heart rate increase when standing up.  When a person with POTS stands up, the heart pumps faster to help keep the blood pressure up, and try to help the blood in their body reach their brain and other vital organs.  The body of a person with POTS does not respond to gravity the same way a non-POTS person does. 

The majority of POTS patients are female, of child bearing age, and under 35.  There are thought to be anywhere from 500,000 to millions of people in the US with POTS and other forms of Orthostatic Intolerance.   There are no solid published statistics or data at this time, these are estimates from the major research centers that treat POTS.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

FIND YOUR POTS CAUSE: Mitochondrial Disease 101 (Guest Post by Hannah!)

Global Mito Awareness Week is September 16-22.  Mito can cause POTS symptoms, and other types of autonomic dysfunction.

"Mitochondrial cytopathies are a diverse group of inherited and acquired disorders that result in inadequate energy production. They can be caused by inheritable genetic mutations, acquired somatic mutations, exposure to toxins (including some prescription medications), and the aging process itself." (1)
I'm very excited to have an amazing POTSy teen that I met and have gotten to know a bit through Facebook offer to write about her probable POTS cause, Mitochondrial Disease. Her name is Hannah, and she just started her Freshman year at UNC Chapel Hill. She is one of the most well spoken and knowledgeable teens, let alone people, I have met - especially regarding her health conditions. She is always willing to answer questions and help others navigate a very confusing set of diseases.  She developed POTS as a young teen, but then her symptoms changed and became more severe, and she was given a tentative Mito diagnosis after numerous positive tests and working with both Mito and POTS specialists.  

by Hannah

The mitochondria are the “power-plants” of the cell—they provide most of the energy a cell needs to function. There are mitochondria in every single cell except for red blood cells. Mitochondrial disease, or ‘mito’ is a genetic and generally progressive problem with the mitochondria. (There is also a concept of “mitochondrial dysfunction”, where there is no gene mutation but the mitochondria don’t work well because of some outside force, such as certain medications or diseases.) The spectrum of severity of mitochondrial disease varies widely, from a baby with Leigh’s Disease who passes away before his first birthday, to the very serious MNGIE, to a woman who gets excessively fatigued and weak as she ages.

Cells have multiple mitochondrian that power the cell through by converting ADP to ATP.