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Postural tachycardia syndrome is associated with significant symptoms and functional impairment predominantly affecting young women: a UK perspective

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Claire McDonald, Emerita Professor Julia Newton



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Objective: To examine a large UK cohort of patients with postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS), to compare demographic characteristics, symptoms and treatment of PoTS at one centre compared to the largest patient group PoTS UK and to verify if their functional limitation is similar to patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).Design: A cross-sectional study assessed the frequency of symptoms and their associated variables.Patients and setting: Two PoTS cohorts were: (1) recruited via PoTS UK, (2) diagnosed at Newcastle Hospitals National Health Service (NHS) Foundation Trust 2009-2012. Patients with PoTS were then compared to a matched cohort with CFS.Main outcome measures: Patients' detailed demographics, time to diagnosis, education, disability, medications, comorbidity and precipitants. Symptom assessment tools captured, Fatigue Impact Scale, Epworth Sleepiness Scale, Orthostatic Grading Scale (OGS), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, Health Assessment Questionnaire, Cognitive Failures Questionnaire.Results: 136 patients with PoTS participated (84 members of PoTS UK (170 cohort; 50% return) and 52 (87 cohort; 60%) from Newcastle Clinics). The PoTS UK population was significantly younger than the clinic patients, with significantly fewer men (p=0.005). Over 60% had a university or postgraduate degree. Significantly more of the PoTS UK cohort were working, with hours worked being significantly higher (p=0.001). Time to diagnosis was significantly longer in the PoTS UK cohort (p=0.04). Symptom severity was comparable between cohorts. The PoTS total group was compared with a matched CFS cohort; despite comparable levels of fatigue and sleepiness, autonomic symptom burden (OGS) was statistically significantly higher. The most common treatment regime included beta-blockers. Overall, 21 treatment combinations were described. Up to 1/3 were taking no treatment.Conclusions: Patients with PoTS are predominantly women, young, well educated and have significant and debilitating symptoms that impact significantly on quality of life. Despite this, there is no consistent treatment.

Publication metadata

Author(s): McDonald C, Koshi S, Busner L, Kavi L, Newton JL

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMJ Open

Year: 2014

Volume: 4

Issue: 6

Print publication date: 16/06/2014

Acceptance date: 11/10/2013

Date deposited: 10/10/2014

ISSN (electronic): 2044-6055

Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-004127


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