fMRI in Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)

  • End date
    Feb 1, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
Updated on 13 June 2022
Accepts healthy volunteers


Postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is one of the most common forms of chronic orthostatic intolerance in the United States. This is a disabling disorder characterized by an excessive increase in heart rate upon standing that is accompanied by symptoms such as dizziness and fatigue. One of the most under appreciated and bothersome symptoms of POTS is impaired cognition or "brain fog," which occurs to a level that interferes with daily activities such as work and education. Despite this high impact, the reasons why POTS patients have problems with cognition are not well understood. This project will test the overall hypothesis that "brain fog" in POTS is related to increased activation of cognitive brain regions during mental tasks when compared with healthy subjects, and that this activation is exacerbated by in the presence of orthostatic stress.


A randomized, double blind, crossover study will be conducted to determine if there are differences in resting brain structure and blood oxygen perfusion in postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS) compared with healthy subjects, and to identify the pattern of brain activation produced by cognitive testing under resting conditions and in the presence of a physical challenge mimicking orthostatic stress (lower body negative pressure, LBNP). This is an outpatient study that requires a screening visit in the Clinical Research Center within the Penn State Hershey Medical Center, and if eligible, two study visits in the Penn State Center for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging involving blood oxygen level dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging (BOLD-fMRI) and a cognitive test while lying in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner with the lower body placed in the LBNP chamber. The LBNP chamber applies suction to the lower body to pool blood in the legs and physiologically mimic what happens when standing up. Blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen saturation will be measured throughout the study. A scan will be performed while at rest to look at the structure and blood oxygen perfusion in the brain. The LBNP or sham pressure will then be initiated, with the order determined randomly and the other stress applied at the second study visit. Once the appropriate level of pressure is achieved, brain oxygen perfusion will be measured and subjects will be asked to complete one test of cognitive function. At the end of the cognitive test, brain oxygen levels will be measured and the testing will end. The time inside the MRI scanner at each study visit will be approximately 45 minutes.

Condition Postural Tachycardia Syndrome
Treatment Lower Body Negative Pressure, Sham Pressure
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04137757
SponsorMilton S. Hershey Medical Center
Last Modified on13 June 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Men and women of all races
Age 18-60
Healthy volunteers or previously diagnosed with POTS by current consensus criteria (rise in heart rate of at least 30 beats/minute within 10 minutes of standing; absence of orthostatic hypotension defined as a drop in blood pressure greater than 20/10 mmHg within 3 minutes of standing; and presence of daily orthostatic symptoms for at least 6 months such as lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, and palpitations)
Capable of giving informed consent
Fluent in written and spoken English

Exclusion Criteria

Age <18 years or >60 years
Pregnant or breastfeeding women
Left handedness
Require glasses for vision correction (contact lenses are okay)
Current smokers
Alcohol or drug abuse
Recreational drug use (e.g. cannabis, heroin, cocaine)
Other potential causes for tachycardia (e.g. prolonged bed rest, dehydration)
Taking selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors or stimulant medications within the past 3 months as these may alter cognition
Unable to tolerate an MRI scanner (e.g. claustrophobia, implanted metal)
Unable to give or withdraw informed consent
Clear my responses

How to participate?

Step 1 Connect with a study center
What happens next?
  • You can expect the study team to contact you via email or phone in the next few days.
  • Sign up as volunteer to help accelerate the development of new treatments and to get notified about similar trials.

You are contacting

Investigator Avatar

Primary Contact



Additional screening procedures may be conducted by the study team before you can be confirmed eligible to participate.

Learn more

If you are confirmed eligible after full screening, you will be required to understand and sign the informed consent if you decide to enroll in the study. Once enrolled you may be asked to make scheduled visits over a period of time.

Learn more

Complete your scheduled study participation activities and then you are done. You may receive summary of study results if provided by the sponsor.

Learn more

Similar trials to consider


Browse trials for

Not finding what you're looking for?

Every year hundreds of thousands of volunteers step forward to participate in research. Sign up as a volunteer and receive email notifications when clinical trials are posted in the medical category of interest to you.

Sign up as volunteer

user name

Added by • 



Reply by • Private

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur, adipisicing elit. Ipsa vel nobis alias. Quae eveniet velit voluptate quo doloribus maxime et dicta in sequi, corporis quod. Ea, dolor eius? Dolore, vel!

  The passcode will expire in None.

No annotations made yet

Add a private note
  • abc Select a piece of text from the left.
  • Add notes visible only to you.
  • Send it to people through a passcode protected link.
Add a private note