She Was Feeling Fatigued All the Time…Then Doctors Discovered THIS
When Katie Luckraft was 12, she began to feeling fatigued that would leave her incapacitated. Her blood pressure was unstable, her heart rate would dangerously increase when standing and she would even experience fainting spells. Doctors told her that her problem was hormonal and related to the onset of puberty. Some even told her mother that she needed to see a psychiatrist. It was not until her mother took her to a cardiologist that she was diagnosed with dysautonomia, or more specifically, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS).
Dysautonomia is a condition where the body’s autonomic functions, such as temperature regulation and blood pressure, fail. In Katie’s case, her blood pressure and heart rate rapidly increase when she changes positions too quickly. POTS is diagnosed in children and teenagers like Katie, when there is a 40 beats per minute (bpm)increase in heart rate.
In adults, POTS is diagnosed when the heart rate increases more than 30 bpm or over 120 bpm, within the first 10 minutes of standing. Women are 80 percent more likely than men to be affected, and usually develop POTS between the ages of 15 and 50. There is no cure, and despite the fact that POTS occurs in 1 out of 100 teenagers and in 3 million adults, it is often misdiagnosed as “hormonal problems” or “depression.”
Too often serious medical conditions that primarily impact women are disregarded. Doctors attribute these complex conditions to anxiety or depression, or relate the patient’s symptoms to premenstrual syndrome or menopause. POTS was only clinically defined by the Mayo Clinic in 1993 by the Mayo Clinic, and many doctors may be unaware of its existence or are not trained in how to make an accurate diagnosis.
Reasons for the common misdiagnosis of POTS may legitimately have more to do with the complex array of signs and symptoms, as opposed to unsympathetic or incompetent physicians. Many patients like Katie, present with an abnormal heart rate increase when standing. Most of them feeling fatigued all the time.
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