Postural tachycardia syndrome – Diagnosis, physiology, and prognosis

Amy C. Arnold, Jessica Ng, Satish R. Raj

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is a heterogeneous clinical syndrome that has gained increasing interest over the past few decades due to its increasing prevalence and clinical impact on health-related quality of life. POTS is clinically characterized by sustained excessive tachycardia upon standing that occurs in the absence of significant orthostatic hypotension and other medical conditions and or medications, and with chronic symptoms of orthostatic intolerance. POTS represents one of the most common presentations of syncope and presyncope secondary to autonomic dysfunction in emergency rooms and in cardiology, neurology, and primary care clinics. The most sensitive method to detect POTS is a detailed medical history, physical examination with orthostatic vital signs or brief tilt table test, and a resting 12-lead electrocardiogram. Additional diagnostic testing may be warranted in selected patients based on clinical signs. While the precise etiology remains unknown, the orthostatic tachycardia in POTS is thought to reflect convergence of multiple pathophysiological processes, as a final common pathway. Based on this, POTS is often described as a clinical syndrome consisting of multiple heterogeneous disorders, with several underlying pathophysiological processes proposed in the literature including partial sympathetic neuropathy, hyperadrenergic state, hypovolemia, mast cell activation, deconditioning, and immune-mediated. These clinical features often overlap, however, making it difficult to categorize individual patients. Importantly, POTS is not associated with mortality, with many patients improving to some degree over time after diagnosis and proper treatment. This review will outline the current understanding of diagnosis, pathophysiology, and prognosis in POTS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-11
Number of pages9
JournalAutonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical
StatePublished - Dec 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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