Heart rate-dependent electrocardiogram abnormalities in patients with postural tachycardia syndrome

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We recently published data suggesting the presence of an intrinsic sinus node abnormality in a subgroup of patients with the postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS). Based on the hypothesis that more widespread abnormalities of cardiac electrophysiologic properties may be present in POTS, we undertook a study to compare cardiac conduction and repolarization at different heart rate levels in patients with POTS and healthy controls. Eleven healthy controls and fourteen patients with POTS participated in the study. Acquisition of 12-lead electrocardiogram recordings were made during supine rest and during gradual head-up tilt. The heart rate of controls was titrated by isoproterenol infusion to match the heart rate of patients. Indices for cardiac conduction (PR interval, QRS duration, and R wave axis) and repolarization (QT interval, QTc interval, and T wave axis) were then compared at different heart rate levels. The PR interval decreased with increasing heart rate in controls more than in patients, resulting in a significantly longer PR interval in patients at the fastest heart rate level. The QT and QTc intervals were significantly shorter in POTS over the entire analyzed heart rate range. The T wave axis decreased with increasing heart rate in patients only. This resulted in a significantly lower T wave axis in patients at the fastest heart rate level. Our data suggest abnormalities of atrioventricular conduction and ventricular repolarization in patients with POTS. These findings may reflect intrinsic cardiac electrophysiologic abnormalities or may be secondary due to abnormalities of cardiac autonomic innervation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-113
Number of pages8
JournalAutonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 31 2003



  • Electrocardiography
  • Orthostatic intolerance
  • Pathophysiology
  • POTS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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