Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Natural Treatment for POTS

One of the sites I really like for all things natural, NaturalNews, posted a great article today about Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome and treating it with exercise. While, in my opinion, this article is specifically for those with stand-alone POTS and not POTS secondary to EDS, we can all take the advice from it. We can work within our limits (which may be higher than we believe them to be), and find ways to get exercise, which according to the article and other information I have read/heard, is the key to helping fight the syndrome; at the same time, we EDSers must be mindful of our bodies and joints.

While those of us with POTS secondary to EDS are usually thought of as having POTS because of our stretchy blood vessels, and this isn't going to fix us at a genetic level, I do think it would be beneficial to us and help relieve some of the symptoms, even if just temporarily. I have had several doctors tell me this, and also heard it at the conference I went to. The article also mentions that an exercise regime must be done indefinitely to keep symptoms at bay.

I am in the healing process from having tubes surgically removed from my ears, which means I will be able to get back to the pool again and hopefully that will help some of the POTS symptoms (along with the beta blockers I am now taking). I will have to find ways to workout in the pool that won't hurt me, as my shoulders and knees can't take much these days, but even grabbing a kickboard and just moving to get my heart rate up should help. There is a great bike/walking/etc. trail by the house I am moving to, so that will help, too. And, of course, keeping my body full of fluids, mainly water and some coconut water, along with lots of salt, is always helpful.

I am happy there is a positive article being circulated about POTS and natural treatments. Hope you enjoy!


Natural Cure Discovered for Debilitating Heart Syndrome POTS
Tuesday, June 21, 2011 by: S. L. Baker, features writer

(NaturalNews) Imagine simply standing up and feeling your heart speed up more than 30 beats a minute -- sometimes it races well over 120 beats a minutes. You also have heart palpitations out the blue and low stroke volume (the amount of blood your heart pumps with each blood). Even the amount of blood in your body is too low.

These are the symptoms of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) -- dubbed "The Grinch Syndrome" because the majority of patients have a heart that is literally, to use Dr. Seuss' description of the Grinch's heart, "two sizes too small." POTS affects about 500,000 people in the U.S., primarily young women.

And while it isn't life-threatening, it can destroy the quality of a person's life and cause substantial disability by bringing on symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue, inability to stand for prolonged periods of time (chronic orthostatic intolerance) and fainting.

But now there's evidence POTS can be cured without drugs or surgery, according to research just published in Hypertension: Journal of the American Medical Association. It isn't the easiest "prescription" for many POTS sufferers but knowing they can be cured may be enough to get them started on this natural path to total healing. The treatment? Regular exercise.

"The exercise training program is a resounding success in the treatment of POTS," Benjamin Levine, M.D., senior study author and director at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas, said in a statement to the media.

As anyone with POTS knows, the condition can cause such dizziness and fatigue that exercise can seem downright impossible. But the researchers figured out a way to help POTS sufferers begin exercising safely.

"The unique component is to start training in a recumbent (semi-reclining) position, which is important to those who can't tolerant standing. This strategy avoids the upright position that produces symptoms. We don't even let patients stand up to exercise for one or even two months," explained Levine who is also professor of medicine and cardiology and distinguished professorship in exercise science at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. "However, to maintain the benefits these patients will need to incorporate the training program into their everyday lives indefinitely."

There are a variety of recumbent or sitting exercises include cycling with a recumbent bike, rowing and swimming. Dr. Levine and his research team recommend exercise training for POTS patients that progressively increases in intensity, frequency and duration. The training regime, they said, should start with 30 to 45 minute sessions, two to four times per week. Eventually, patients work up to exercising five to six hours each week and they are encouraged to exercise upright when they are able to.

For the recent study, the scientists worked with 18 women (average age 27) and one man who completed a double-blind drug trial. The POTS sufferers were randomized to receive either the beta blocker propranolol, commonly prescribed for their heart condition, or a placebo for four weeks. After that time period, the research subjects participated three months of exercise training. There was also a control group of 15 non-POTS healthy participants who participated in the study.

The results of the study showed that all POTS patients who completed the exercise training showed improvement in physical function scores. What's more 95 percent of them showed improvement in their ability to function socially.

Every single POTS patient who completed the exercise regime showed an improvement in heart rate responses and over half - 53 percent - were actually "cured" of their POTS. That means their change in heart rate with standing no longer met the diagnostic criteria for the syndrome.

More good news for POTS sufferers: aldosterone-to-renin ratio (the regulation of sodium balance, fluid volume and blood pressure) has long been known to be low in people with POTS and the standard drug therapy given these people does nothing to help. But not so with the all-natural exercise regime -- the aldosterone-to-renin ration, which plays a critical role in how the body handles changes to blood circulation during prolonged standing, showed a dramatic increase in the POTS patients who worked out regularly.

The researchers' analyses also showed the group receiving beta blocker drugs showed no change in social function scores and very few patients taking the drugs improved their physical function scores at all.

"Exercise training is superior to the beta blocker in restoring upright blood circulation, improving kidney function and dramatically improving quality of life," Qi Fu, M.D., Ph.D., study first-author and assistant professor of internal medicine and cardiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, concluded in the statement to the media.

7 comments:

Achelois said...

Whilst I appreciate the hard work that must have been put into the study. I have EDS etc and know people with stand alone POTS. I am always wary of a claim of cure, if only life were so simple. I also think if this regime were to be proved as a cure, an awful lot more than 18 patients would need to be studied over time to be proven statistically efficient.

I think particularly of one person I know with Severe Pots who has tried all of this to no avail (she does not have EDS) Every day there are claims, that such an such a condition has a cure. Which is great. But until many many more patients with POTS have been studied over a very long period of time, I would not presume to possibly insult them by suggesting that a new revolutionary cure now that they have studied 18 patients is here for them. The person I know has tried very very hard via this way and her life is equally as bad as any EDSer with POTS. Unfortunately not all programmes prove to be successful and some even quietly disappear. I do not doubt that to improve anyones physical stamina etc will help but as to a cure - I will wait and see. Today I read, that a cure for prostate cancer and also it seems pancreatic cancer is on the horizon, unfortunately as with many trials, the time lapse between miracle cures and actual cures with sufficient statistical evidence to prove validity is often large. I wonder if they took in enough variables, ie:income, gender, stress, length of having the condition, co-current medical conditions, weight, etc etc! Whilst I commend their efforts to find a cure because one is certainly needed. I actually think most POTS specialists know already (at least they do in the UK) that improving general fitness, increasing salt and hydration are already known as ways to help manage what can be a completely devastating condition. All of the above are natural interventions for those with mild POTS. I just hope this small study does not give POTS patients false hope. There is nothing wrong with hope its a good thing but false hope just bugs me.

Vegan Danielle Davis said...

@Achelois: I completely agree with your comment, and I also appreciate you taking the time to respond. The reason I titled this post "Treatment for POTS" and not "cure" like the author of the article did, was because I don't think finding a cure to POTS is that simple.

I know that POTS affects people with EDS differently and I also know that stand-alone POTS may not be treatable by these measures alone. I know both types of POTSies and I know some of both that have tried exercise as well. Most doctors that treat POTS do recommend physical exercise, I have found that pretty standard (along with salt and fluids) - but I also know people with POTS that don't have a lot of resources, including a lack of doctors that know anything about POTS, so this may be of help to them.

I am definitely not spreading this around as a cure-all for POTS, and I am hoping that it isn't looked at like that in the medical field either. It is a terrible feeling when a doctor sends you home telling you to eat more salt or walk a mile and you will be fine. I am hoping that it will merely be used as a guideline to help POTSies in their search for treatments, natural and/or medicinal.

I, myself, am doing a giant combo of things, and still haven't found much luck yet...but I will keep trying. Beta blockers, midodrine, florinef, salt, fluids and...what I should also be doing more of....exercising. I am taking this as a boost in my motivation to try to keep a bit active this summer, even though I feel so pulled down half the time.

Hope is wonderful, false hope isn't. Agreed. But...anything that we can add to our regimen that may help...it is probably at least worth a little effort.

Hope your summer is going well and that the heat isn't making your POTS too unbearable. Bendy hugs your way!!

xo
dani

Jennifer said...

I have just found your blog, and am finding it very informative. My 17 year old daughter has just been diagnosed with EDS and POTS. We are in Carson City, and I am wondering if you have any experiences with doctors in the local area that are familiar with this. Thank you so much for your information!

*Paige Ann* said...

Thanks so much for all you inform on your blog. I have recently been diagnosed with POTS and it's nice to relate to other people. Hope all is well! And join my blog at: mrspots.blogspot.com

Erin said...

i know this isn't relevant to POTS but i figured i'd comment on a post that related to me too! i was just wondering how you get your blog to look so awesome with all the different things to click on and stuff. i'm just starting a blog for myself bc i have EDS too. any tips to make your blog look good? thanks :)

www.e3d.es said...

Quite useful material, thanks so much for the post.

Anonymous said...

Nice article!

I have EDS, which was diagnosed after I was first diagnosed with POTS. I've been taking Adcirca to help lessen the impact of my POTS. Has anyone else had success with this medication?