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Seven Ways Doctors May Test for POTS


POTS is short for postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, which is a fancy way of saying that your body doesn’t like being upright. It’s a complicated diagnosis because of ways it presents in different individuals. The symptoms vary, as well as the intensity of those symptoms. One of the hallmark symptoms of POTS is dizziness and an increased heart rate when standing, although that may not be the worst symptom you experience.

A recent survey of 3,000 POTS patients found that most spent at least four years seeing seven to ten medical professionals just attempting to get a diagnosis for their condition. There are seven common ways that doctors can test and diagnose POTS:

Active standing
In this test, the patient stands for up to half an hour while a medical professional monitors your heart rate and blood pressure. A blood draw may occur while this test is being administered. Your health professional will look for an increase in heart rate by 30 beats per minute or more.

The tilt-table test is similar to the active standing test, but instead of standing the patient is strapped to a table that tilts them somewhere between 60 and 80 degrees.

Heart rhythm 
Your doctor may recommend heart rhythm monitoring. This is done through EKG or a personal heart monitor that can be worn for a 24-hour period. 

Heart function 
Any heart valve disorders you have may affect the way the heart pumps blood, so an echocardiogram is used to monitor function and rue out other causes.

Blood draw
Blood tests can also rule out other issues that can cause the same symptoms as POTS, such as thyroid conditions, B12 and Vitamin D deficiencies, hormone and enzyme levels, and even autoimmune diseases such as lupus.

Quantitative Sudomotor Axon Reflex Testing is a sweat test. It determines where exactly things are going off the rails in the nervous system, since the sweat glands respond to signals from sympathetic nerves. A sweat test can reveal if the issue lies in the nerve signal or in the release of the transmitter.

Brain imaging 
CT scans and MRIs are used to rule out any kind of brain abnormalities that share symptoms with POTS. These are useful for ruling out other causes. Doctors can also check the blood flow to the brain using these tests as well.

The POTS and Dysautonomia Treatment Center offers patients collaborative, alternative care aimed at treating the whole person, not just the disorder. Our team consists of a psychophysiologist, an internal medicine doctor, clinical health psychologist, and a registered dietitian who work with you to provide compassionate care through a full range of services.

Our treatment options include onsite intensives in Dallas, as well as online options you can complete anywhere. Are you ready to take control of your symptoms? Read more about our treatment options.