A black female medical professional talking a blood pressure test of a black female patient in a hospital room with the article title - PoTS: My Experience Of The Cardiac Valve Stress Echo - in the top right corner of the image

PoTS: My Experience Of The Cardiac Valve Stress Echo

I’d previously written about an exercise stress test that I underwent that was conducted with a consultant that specialised in endocrinology and cardiology. That test led to them recommending I went keto. This postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS) test was similar to that, but also different, keep reading to find out how it differenced.

 

 

The cardiac valve stress echo test was to further investigate if I have PoTS, to explain my exercise intolerance and some, if not all, of my dizziness and balance issues. This test would be my third one relating to PoTS, the other one I hadn’t mentioned was my tilt table test. Being diagnosed with PoTS wouldn’t invalidate my balance disorder, persistent postural-perceptual dizziness (PPPD), which has over lapping symptoms, as my PPPD can also be triggered by movement in my vision.

 

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What Is Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS)?

 

Simply put, PoTS is a heart condition whereby you have an abnormal increase in heart rate that occurs after sitting up or standing. Symptoms of which are typically dizziness and fainting. When you stand up gravity pulls your blood downwards, which your automatic nervous system compensates for by narrowing blood vessels and slightly increasing your heartbeat. However, if your automatic nervous system fails to do both of these then there’s a drop in the blood supply to the brain and heart causing the heart to race.

 

Coronavirus

 

Because my PoTS test was conducted during coronavirus, I had to wear a mask until the exercise part of the test started. The staff were already wearing a mask to cover their mouth and nose as well but put on a face shield to go with their surgical masks so I could do the exercise test without a mask. So don’t worry if you’re having a test like this during the pandemic. Once my breathing had settled, I put my mask back on even though they hadn’t told me to do. Common courtesy.

 

The picture is split in two with the top image being of a stethoscope resting on a heart monitor print out and the bottom image being of a row of exercise bikes in black and white. The two images are separated by the article title - PoTS: My Experience Of The Cardiac Valve Stress Echo

 

The Test

 

The letter for my PoTS test told me this test was to be done while still taking my beta-blockers, which I guess makes sense as I still have the dizziness and other symptoms even though my beta-blockers control my heart rhythm and stopped my chest pains. The letter also said not to eat an hour before the test, but I think I missed this up as I had to eat to control my reactive hypoglycaemia about 40-50 minutes before my test. I’d forgotten I wasn’t meant to eat. It would have been less time if they hadn’t run 30 minutes late.

 

The test involved me being seated in an exercise bike that tilted back to about 15-20° off me laying completely horizontal. I then had my heart scanned for about 10 minutes and had my blood pressure checked a couple of times. I had a blood pressure cuff put on that I had to keep on throughout the test and I was attached to a number of other sensors to check my heart rate throughout the test.

 

After that was all done, I had to pedal and keep my speed between 55-65. However, when I reached 58 the machine started rocking backwards and forwards. It appears how the bike had to be set to accommodate my height caused this issue, the rocking and squeaking. The issue was extremely annoying, so to avoid it I tried to keep it between 55-57.

 

Another issue was due to having fairly big feet, it seems. All the pressure of pedalling was focused on the front part of my foot. It was like running in Stilettos. This put extra strain on my tendons just above my ankle and caused my thigh muscles to get tired quicker than usual.

 

A pair of red Stilettos surrounded by back velvet

 

The last stress test I had I could ride for a lot longer, to the point I was completely exhausted. This time, I wasn’t exhausted to the point I had to be helped off the bike, which happened in my other stress test. I was barely out of breath by the time the pain in my leg became unbearable. I really hope that doesn’t affect my results. I simply couldn’t keep going because the front of my calf muscles, especially my right one, was screaming in pain. Everything else was fine.

 

In the first few minutes of the test, my eyes started to feel weird, which is common for me when my symptoms start, it’s generally the first thing I notice as a warning sign, although that could be due to my reactive hypoglycaemia. I also had pins and needles in my feet for a few minutes, but that did pass. All in all, this was barely an exercise stress test when compared to my other one, which resulted in me having to be carried off the bike.

 

Throughout the test, they regularly took images of my heart and did blood pressure checks while I was peddling as the bike increased in resistance difficultly. I just wished my feet were pushing from the bride of my feet rather than from my toes, I would have been able to peddle for longer and thus generate better results.

 

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My rush to get to my appointment wiped me out more than the test itself did, which was annoying to me. Even running down two flights of stairs when the postperson delivers something, that wipes me out more. I’d forgotten I had this PoTS appointment and had to clean my teeth, shower, dress, pack, and speed walk to the train to get there in time. All of which I managed in about 35 minutes, somehow. I was struggling to breathe for most of that walk and I felt terrible, it was a real struggle to stay composed. In comparison, during the test, I felt pretty normal.

 

When the tested finished, they asked why I’d stopped when I did, and I explained the pains in my legs. Hopefully, that’ll be reflected in the results. Unlike my last exercise test, however, I didn’t get to chat with the consultant about the results. That probably means I’ll have to wait another eight months to get the results when I see my specialist again. Sigh.

 

As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your experiences with PoTS or exercise tests in the comments section below as well. If you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications of new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom left corner.

 

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65 thoughts on “PoTS: My Experience Of The Cardiac Valve Stress Echo

  1. I cannot even imagine how it must have been. I have some close relatives who has a heart condition and has similar symptoms that you have. Will share it too so they can give this a read! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. I loved learning a little bit more about this kind of test, as well as the ways it can potentially help. It is heartening to know the tests were conducted safely, though I am sorry the bike started to rock like that; it is never heartening when the equipment you are on does not feel as sound as it should be.

    It is a pity you did not get to chat with a consultant; commutation is so essential in finding a path forward, though I often find medical personnel often only as the basic questions and are usually never chatty. I suppose perhaps they do not have time . . .
    I hope this test is a great help to you! Thank you for sharing your experience. 🙂

    • My GPs aren’t very chatty since having to have appointments over the phone, that’s for sure. The bike rocking sure was annoying, I guess they’re optimised for people smaller than me, even though the national average should have caught up to my height by now, as I’m only 6’/6’1″

  3. I have quite a number of relatives with high blood pressure and heart conditions. But unfortunately they don’t have the money to try on these apparatus so they’re just doing monthly check-up and taking medicine as maintenance. I’m sure it was awful to do this in a pandemic but I’m happy that you didn’t ignore this. May you have the best of health.

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

    http://www.lifebeginsattwenty.com

  4. Although I don’t have any experience with PoTS or exercise tests, it was interesting to read about yours. I hope you don’t have to wait too long for follow-up info. I’ve been avoiding medical offices and just about everywhere else during the pandemic. I did get out for a 3 mile hike a couple of days ago.

  5. This sounds similar to a test my Dad recently had which is called a MIBI. How frustrating that you may not get the results for several months! I suppose if there was anything really off they would contact you right away. Thanks for sharing your experience and good luck!

  6. I am familiar with some of the heart problems, it’s a common ailment in our family. But this is the first time i heard about PoTs. Appreciate for letting us know about this condition. I hope your test results are well and good. Take care of your health.

  7. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m familiar with receiving tests & treatment for my heart, however I haven’t had to do the tilt-table, it really doesn’t sound very comfortable, especially during covid! I hope you were able to rest afterwards…

    Pixee ♡ | Thats What Pea Said

  8. I’ve only heard about this test and condition in TV series or other forms of media, but I have never had the chance to read about someone’s direct experience. Thank you for sharing, it was very informative! I am sorry you didn’t get to talk with the consultants afterwards. Fingers crossed for when you get the results!

  9. I have never been through this test, but it was an interesting post to read. You shared your experience so well as a reader I could feel your exhaustion and how you must have felt then.

  10. My mum underwent a similar test for a heart condition she’d struggled with most of her life that caused extremely high heart-rate (sometimes without warning). As she didn’t know when it would happen, although stress could trigger it, it took a long time to get it recorded and allow for a diagnosis. Luckily she worked in a hospital as the head of physiotherapy and when it happend she could get to the clinic quickly. Thanks for sharing this info about what you went through as it provides valuable context.

    • What was the diagnosis your mum got in the end? Did she undertake a 7 day ECG to track the heart-rate issues? I ended up on beta blockers due to issues with my heart beat and having a 24 hour and a 7 day ECG

      • It was found that she had supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) — a rather severe form of it so she underwent some treatment for it (cardiac ablation) and has been doing well. She first became aware of it when she was younger and it took a long time to finally “catch” it where it could be monitored. She had numerous 24 hour and 7 day heart monitoring and of course nothing ever happened when she had those. It was not until one day at work at the hospital she felt it happening so she went straight to the heart clinic and got on a monitor that they were able to finally record it as it was happening. Her heart rate was so high they kept her in overnight.

        • I was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia after my first 24 hours ECG, we also talked about cardiac ablation, but my best blockers worked at controling it. I was in constant cheat pain and my hear rate was all over the place at that point. It was impossible to miss for me.

          A few years later though, when I had to have more tests, I had to stop my medication for a 7 day ECG. The results of which this time was inappropriate sinus tachycardia. Not sure how that changed.

          Glad to hear your mum’s doing well now 🙂

  11. This is interesting. I have hypoglycemia and if I overexert myself I easily get dizzy and faint. I’ve been kicked out with a refund at CrossFit because of this. I wonder if I should get tested for pots.

    ~Alohamelani

  12. I am sorry that you went through this during pandemic, and lockdowns. Try to keep a health journal so you should not forget to take your medications. It’s a pity that you are getting your result in 4-6 months. Please take good care of yourself and avoid unnecessary stress.
    Sara xx

  13. I’ve heard about this before and I’m so sorry you’ve been through this during the current situation. It’s so interesting to read this too. I gain more knowledge about PoTs. Thank you for sharing this x

  14. Ive had a heart condition for the last 7 years and in fact I have a cardiologist. My appointments are every 2 years and I go through a battery of tests as you did. It’s tough. Whenever I go, I’m expecting to hear that I’m getting worse. If I do, it’s heart surgery. My doctor says “I’ve seen worse”… Anyhow, I sympathize and understand the uncomfortable feelings and uncertainty. I try not to think about it.

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