In a new study, researchers found a drug used for heart failure improves symptoms linked to postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, otherwise known as POTS.
This complex, debilitating disorder affects the body’s autonomic nervous system, causing a high heart rate, usually when standing.
Recently, POTS has been identified as a potential “long-hauler” symptom of COVID-19.
The research was conducted by a team at the University of California San Diego.
In the study, the team examined the drug ivabradine and its effects on heart rate, quality of life, and plasma norepinephrine levels in persons living with POTS.
Norepinephrine is a stress hormone and neurotransmitter. In blood plasma, it is used as a measure of sympathetic nervous system activity.
The study involved 22 individuals whose average age was 32 years. Each participant had been screened and recruited from cardiology clinics at UC San Diego Health from 2018 to 2020.
The participants experienced a reduction in heart rate, improvement in their symptoms, and overall quality of life one month after taking the drug.
The researchers also found ivabradine was well-tolerated with no big side effects while other drugs used to lower heart rate, such as beta blockers, can cause fatigue and decreased blood pressure.
They say ivabradine is a novel drug that’s FDA-approved for heart failure, but based on its mechanism they thought it could be helpful for patients with POTS as it reduces heart rate without impacting blood pressure.
If doctors can lower the heart rate, they could provide these patients with the ability to stand up, something they couldn’t do without difficulty before due to their POTS diagnosis.
One author of the study is Pam Taub, MD, a cardiologist at the Cardiovascular Institute.
The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiolog.