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Heart Health

This unusual syndrome causes your heart to race when you stand up

October 1, 2021

Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) involves the nervous system and can cause a constellation of debilitating symptoms.

a9c42c09-7733-44a4-bf4f-75721f18bde1When you stand up, gravity pulls blood down into your lower body. Normally, the autonomic nervous system (the body’s "autopilot" system) signals the blood vessels in your legs to tighten and your heart to pump a bit faster to send blood back up to your brain.

But sometimes that process goes awry: the blood vessels in the legs don’t squeeze enough to ensure sufficient blood flow to the brain, so the heart accelerates even more than usual to compensate. A rapid heart rate — tachycardia — is a key feature of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, or POTS, a mysterious condition that’s gained greater recognition in recent years.

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