POTS – Postural Tachycardia Syndrome: May Be UnderRecognized and UnderTreated

MedicalResearch.com Interview with
Prof. Julia I. Newton:
Dean of Clinical Medicine & Professor of Ageing and Medicine
Clinical Academic Office
The Medical School
Newcastle University

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

Prof. Newton: In this study we have explored for the first time the characteristics of patients with Postural tachycardia in the UK

  • Postural Tachycardia Syndrome  patients are predominantly female, young, well educated and have significant and debilitating symptoms that impact significantly upon their quality of life.
  • Despite this, there is no consistent treatment, high levels of disability and associated comorbidity.
  • Although individuals presented with symptoms at the same age, those attending a specialist clinic received a diagnosis quicker.
  • Symptom burden for those with Postural tachycardia is high and comparable to that seen in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is recognized by the WHO as a neurological disorder and by the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 as a disability. At the current time those with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome  suffer to the same extent as those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome but do not receive the same protection from the law.
  • It is important that more work is done to understand the underlying autonomic abnormality in those with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome in order to allow us to develop targeted treatments that are effective and go beyond the currently available simply symptomatic management.

MedicalResearch: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Prof. Newton: High levels of comorbidity particularly Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome is important as it might point towards an underlying overlapping mechanism.

  • Interestingly 24% of Postural Tachycardia Syndrome patients from Postural tachycardia UK and the 33% of the clinic cohort were taking no medication for their postural tachycardia.

MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Prof. Newton: It is becoming increasingly clear that historically many patients with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome were given a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. This is important when the public health implications of CFS/ME (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome /Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) and fatigue in its more general sense, is considered.

MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Prof. Newton: It is important that we begin to understand the pathophysiology of Postural Tachycardia Syndrome  which will help us develop targeted treatments that will be evidence based. This will lead to treatmetns that will improve the quality of life of this increasingly recognised group of patients

Citation:

McDonald C, Koshi S, Busner L, Kavi L, Newton J. Postural tachycardia syndrome is associated with significant symptoms and functional impairment predominantly affecting young women: a UK perspective. BMJ Open. 2014