High flow variant postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome amplifies the cardiac output response to exercise in adolescents

Paolo T. Pianosi el at.

tilt table


Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is characterized by chronic fatigue and dizziness and affected individuals by definition have orthostatic intolerance and tachycardia. There is considerable overlap of symptoms in patients with POTS and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), prompting speculation that POTS is akin to a deconditioned state. We previously showed that adolescents with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) have excessive heart rate (HR) during, and slower HR recovery after, exercise –hallmarks of deconditioning. We also noted exaggerated cardiac output during exercise which led us to hypothesize that tachycardia could be a manifestation of a high output state rather than a consequence of deconditioning. We audited records of adolescents presenting with long-standing history of any mix of fatigue, dizziness, nausea, who underwent both head-up tilt table test and maximal exercise testing with measurement of cardiac output at rest. Mean arterial blood pressure and pulse pressure from rest to exercise rose similarly in both groups. We conclude that 40% of POTS adolescents demonstrate a hyperkinetic circulation during exercise. We attribute this to failure of normal regional vasoconstriction during exercise, such that patients must increase flow through an inappropriately vasodilated systemic circulation to maintain perfusion pressure.

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The Physiological Society July 2014