BACKGROUND - Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are often prescribed in patients with postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS), and act at synaptic terminals to increase monoamine neurotransmitters. We hypothesized that they act to increase blood pressure and attenuate reflex tachycardia, thereby improving symptoms. Acute hemodynamic profiles after SSRI administration in POTS patients have not previously been reported.
METHODS - Patients with POTS (n=39; F=37, 39 ±9 years) underwent a randomized crossover trial with sertraline 50mg and placebo. Heart rate, systolic, diastolic, and mean blood pressure were measured with the patient seated and standing for 10 min prior to drug or placebo administration, and then hourly for 4 h. The primary endpoint was standing heart rate at 4 h.
RESULTS - At 4 h, standing heart rate and systolic blood pressure were not significantly different between sertraline and placebo. Seated systolic (106±12 mmHg vs. 101±8 mmHg; p=0.041), diastolic (72±8 mmHg vs. 69±8 mmHg; p=0.022), and mean blood pressure (86±9 mmHg vs. 81±9 mmHg; p=0.007) were significantly higher after sertraline administration than placebo. At 4 h, symptoms were worse with sertraline than placebo.
CONCLUSIONS - Sertraline had a modest pressor effect in POTS patients, but this did not translate into a reduced heart rate or improved symptoms.