STARS Patient Information
In recent years a drug has come onto the market, Midodrine, which can safely raise blood pressure in sufferers of syncope. It works by constricting the blood vessels, which reduces blood pooling in the legs and increases blood pressure.
Midodrine reacts within one hour of taking a dose and allows the sufferer to lead a relatively normal life, without being dizzy or light-headed, for about three to four hours. It is normally taken three times a day but not after 6pm.
Midodrine, which is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, is not licensed in the UK and therefore can only be prescribed by specialists in the autonomic system or certain heart rhythm experts (Electrophysiologists). It is not recommended for use in children.
Much patience is required in the treatment of syncope and POTS as medications that help some may have no effect for others and in some cases make matters worse. Midodrine is one of the more successful drugs and and has few side-effects. Itching, tingling and feeling cold are some of the adverse reactions, but these can easily be controlled by changing the dosage.
For some sufferers of syncope and POTS, Midodrine can significantly improve the quality of life.
Beta-blockers work by blocking the effects of the hormone adrenaline. As a result, the heart beats more slowly and with less force, thereby reducing blood pressure. Beta-blockers also help blood vessels relax and open up to improve blood flow.
Some beta-blockers mainly affect your heart, while others affect both your heart and your blood vessels. This is why they can be prescribed for people with high or low blood pressure since different types do different things. Some people are put on them for stress even though they have low blood pressure, but others are put on them to lower high blood pressure.
Beta-blockers might be prescribed for:
- High blood pressure
- Heart failure
- Chest pain (angina)
- Heart attacks
- Generalized anxiety disorder / Stress
- Certain types of tremors
Common side effects of beta-blockers include fatigue, cold hands, dizziness and weakness. Less common side effects include shortness of breath, trouble sleeping, loss of sex drive and slow heartbeat.
Some people find that they make them very dizzy and nauseous so have to stop taking them.
The following are the more commonly prescribed beta-blockers:
However, whatever medication you may be given, no doctor would consider it unreasonable if you asked him/her to explain how it could help your particular symptoms. Taking medication and not understanding why you have been given it can be counter-productive in its effectiveness.