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Symptoms Predictive of Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) in the Adolescent Headache Patient

Authors


  • Conflict of Interest: None.

Address all correspondence to G.L. Heyer, Departments of Pediatrics and Neurology, Nationwide Children's Hospital, 700 Children's Drive, ED-5, Columbus, OH 43205, USA, email: geoffrey.heyer@nationwidechildrens.org

Abstract

Objective

To identify symptoms that may predict postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS) among adolescent patients with headache and lightheadedness referred for tilt table testing.

Background

Individuals with POTS can have a variety of symptoms that impair quality of life. The specific symptoms that help to distinguish the POTS patient in an adolescent headache population have not been determined.

Methods

A group of symptoms was compared among 70 adolescent patients with headache and lightheadedness referred to a pediatric headache clinic for tilt table testing. Every patient completed a symptom questionnaire prior to the tilt table test. The chi-square test was used to compare questionnaire responses between patients found to have POTS and those who did not have POTS. Thirteen symptoms were analyzed. Symptoms that differed statistically between groups were further assessed for sensitivity, specificity, and diagnostic predictive values.

Results

Thirty-seven (53%) patients met diagnostic criteria for POTS. Several symptoms differed between the patients found to have POTS and those without POTS. Headache type was not predictive. Vertigo and evening exacerbation of headaches had P values <.05 but did not meet significance after a statistical correction for multiple variables, P ≤ .004 (0.05/13). New-onset motion sickness, dizziness as a headache trigger, and orthostatic headaches had P values <.004 and were relatively sensitive and/or specific for the POTS diagnosis.

Conclusions

While no single clinical symptom or headache type reliably establishes the POTS diagnosis, several symptoms can help to distinguish the POTS patient in an adolescent headache population.

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