What is POTS? Explaining the syndrome affecting Christina Applegate’s daughter Sadie

Christina Applegate’s 13-year-old daughter Sadie Grace LeNoble revealed this week that she has been diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, also known as POTS.

On Tuesday’s episode of Applegate’s “MeSsy” podcast, LeNoble opened up about her condition, “I have something called POTS. I have no clue what it actually is, but it’s something to do with the autonomic nervous system, and it affects my heart. When I stand up, I get really, really dizzy, and my legs get really weak and I feel like I’m going to pass out.”

LeNoble said her diagnosis has given her newfound compassion for and common ground with her mom, 52, who has multiple sclerosis.

What is POTS?

7 POTS is characterized by an exaggerated heart rate while standing up. Getty Images

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, POTS is a chronic disorder that affects the autonomic nervous system and blood circulation. It’s characterized by an extreme increase in heart rate when a person stands up.

Although POTS is part of the broader category of dysautonomia, conditions that disrupt the autonomic nervous system, POTS specifically involves the cardiovascular system’s response to standing up from a reclined position.

What are the symptoms?

7 Sadie Grace LeNoble (right), Christina Applegate’s daughter, recalled having her POTS symptoms dismissed as anxiety. Getty Images for ABA

Symptoms of POTS include brain fog, fatigue, lightheadedness, fainting, headaches, blurry vision, palpitations, excessive sweat, pallor, intolerance of physical activity, tremors and nausea.

Symptoms tend to worsen in warm environments and situations that require a lot of standing. Dehydration, hunger and a common cold or infection can also exacerbate POTS.

In some cases, POTS symptoms are so severe that a person cannot be upright for more than a few minutes at a time, seriously affecting quality of life.

7 LeNoble says her diagnosis has made her feel closer to her mom, Christina Applegate (left), who is battling multiple sclerosis. Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

LeNoble — whom Applegate shares with her husband, Martyn LeNoble — recalled visiting the school nurse several times a day as a sixth grader. “In class, if I were to stand up then, I would be like, ‘I have to go to the nurse. I can’t do this.’ Or I’ll be in PE, and I’ll be like, ‘I have to go to the nurse,’ ” she said.

“They were like, ‘You’re doing this to get out of class. It’s probably just anxiety. Go back to class.’ They wouldn’t do anything for it,” she added.

LeNoble’s experience mirrors the misdiagnosis of POTS, as the symptoms are often incorrectly attributed to psychological disorders such as anxiety.

What causes POTS?

7 Some researchers believe there’s a link between POTS and COVID-19. Getty Images

POTS may develop or present itself during puberty, after a viral illness, or following surgery or other major medical events.

Some researchers believe that COVID-19 can be a trigger for POTS, as an increased number of people who recovered from the virus are experiencing POTS-like symptoms such as chronic fatigue, brain fog and increased heart rate.

While POTS can run in families, no single gene has been identified. In terms of genetic factors, there is a strong relationship between POTS and various joint hypermobility disorders, including Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

Is POTS treatable?

7 POTS is treatable but not curable. Getty Images

Johns Hopkins notes that POTS is not life-threatening, but a major risk is falling from fainting.

While there is no known cure for POTS, symptoms can be treated with a combination of dietary changes, medications, exercise and physical therapy.

How common is the syndrome?

7 “The Real Housewives of New York City” alum Bethenny Frankel has been open about her struggle with POTS. GC Images

POTS affects an estimated 1 million to 3 million Americans. While physicians and researchers don’t fully understand what causes POTS, it’s believed to be more common in women and typically develops in adolescents and young adults, specifically during puberty.

POTS is diagnosed with a 10-minute standing test or a table tilt test.

Have any other celebrities been diagnosed with POTS?

7 Halsey revealed their POTS diagnosis in 2022. WireImage

Celebrities who have shared their POTS diagnoses include musician Halsey, who detailed their journey in an interview with Vanity Fair.

Tori Moore Foles, the wife of NFL quarterback Nick Foles, has also been open about her POTS diagnosis.

Reality TV vet and Skinnygirl entrepreneur Bethenny Frankel has been very candid about her daily struggles with POTS.

She attributes the worsening of her symptoms to long COVID.

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