Diagnosing postural tachycardia syndrome: comparison of tilt testing compared with standing haemodynamics

Clin Sci (Lond). 2013 Jan;124(2):109-14. doi: 10.1042/CS20120276.


POTS (postural tachycardia syndrome) is characterized by an increased heart rate (ΔHR) of ≥30 bpm (beats/min) with symptoms related to upright posture. Active stand (STAND) and passive head-up tilt (TILT) produce different physiological responses. We hypothesized these different responses would affect the ability of individuals to achieve the POTS HR increase criterion. Patients with POTS (n=15) and healthy controls (n=15) underwent 30 min of tilt and stand testing. ΔHR values were analysed at 5 min intervals. ROC (receiver operating characteristic) analysis was performed to determine optimal cut point values of ΔHR for both tilt and stand. Tilt produced larger ΔHR than stand for all 5 min intervals from 5 min (38±3 bpm compared with 33±3 bpm; P=0.03) to 30 min (51±3 bpm compared with 38±3 bpm; P<0.001). Sn (sensitivity) of the 30 bpm criterion was similar for all tests (TILT10=93%, STAND10=87%, TILT30=100%, and STAND30=93%). Sp (specificity) of the 30 bpm criterion was less at both 10 and 30 min for tilt (TILT10=40%, TILT30=20%) than stand (STAND10=67%, STAND30=53%). The optimal ΔHR to discriminate POTS at 10 min were 38 bpm (TILT) and 29 bpm (STAND), and at 30 min were 47 bpm (TILT) and 34 bpm (STAND). Orthostatic tachycardia was greater for tilt (with lower Sp for POTS diagnosis) than stand at 10 and 30 min. The 30 bpm ΔHR criterion is not suitable for 30 min tilt. Diagnosis of POTS should consider orthostatic intolerance criteria and not be based solely on orthostatic tachycardia regardless of test used.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Posture
  • ROC Curve
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tennessee
  • Tilt-Table Test / methods*
  • Time Factors