High sodium intake is recommended for the treatment of postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS) to counteract the hypovolemia and elevated plasma norepinephrine that contribute to excessive orthostatic tachycardia, but evidence of its efficacy is not available.
This study tested whether a high sodium (HS) diet reduces orthostatic tachycardia (Δ heart rate) and upright heart rate compared with a low sodium (LS) diet in POTS patients, and secondarily its effect on plasma volume (PV) and plasma norepinephrine.
A total of 14 POTS patients and 13 healthy control subjects (HC), age 23 to 49 years, were enrolled in a crossover study with 6 days of LS (10 mEq sodium/day) or HS (300 mEq sodium/day) diet. Supine and standing heart rate, blood pressure, serum aldosterone, plasma renin activity, blood volume, and plasma norepinephrine and epinephrine were measured.
In POTS, the HS diet reduced upright heart rate and Δ heart rate compared with the LS diet. Total blood volume and PV increased, and standing norepinephrine decreased with the HS compared with the LS diet. However, upright heart rate, Δ heart rate, and upright norepinephrine remained higher in POTS than in HC on the HS diet (median 117 beats/min [interquartile range: 98 to 121 beats/min], 46 beats/min [interquartile range: 32 to 55 beats/min], and 753 pg/ml [interquartile range: 498 to 919 pg/ml] in POTS vs. 85 beats/min [interquartile range: 77 to 95 beats/min], 19 beats/min [interquartile range: 11 to 32 beats/min], and 387 pg/ml [interquartile range: 312 to 433 pg/ml] in HC, respectively), despite no difference in the measured PV.
In POTS patients, high dietary sodium intake compared with low dietary sodium intake increases plasma volume, lowers standing plasma norepinephrine, and decreases Δ heart rate.