STARS Patient Information
Managing Your Syncope - Lifestyle advice
Prof. Richard Sutton, Professor of Clinical Cardiology, provides lifestyle advice to help prevent syncopal episodes. Advice includes information on fluid intake, diet and situations to avoid.
Exercise advice for syncope and PoTS
Dr David Low, Clinical Research Lead, and Edward Caldow, Exercise Physiologist, provide innovative advice on the benefits of exercise for individuals with syncope or PoTS.
Exercise Rehabilitation for PoTS – My Experience
STARS patient member Anita Kiernan writes about the impact of exercise rehabilitation on syncope and PoTS.
Lifestyle advice for patients prone to syncopal episodes
Syncope and Diet
Blood pressure and pulse rate can be influenced by what we consume. These changes can be quite dramatic in a patient with vasovagal syncope or postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS). This can work to the advantage or disadvantage of the patient.
Life can feel very complicated when you have vasovagal syncope or PoTS. You may have to attend lots of medical appointments, make adjustments at work or be unable to work, support family members who are also affected, keep your environment and clothing cool, monitor your posture, exercise regularly - and all this when you feel tired and unwell. Why should you also have to watch what you eat and drink?
Actually, this is all about a healthy diet. With the exception of high salt intake, it’s what everyone should aspire to, whether you have autonomic problems or not. It also helps to give you some control over your symptoms. It’s healthy, it makes you feel better, and it can be rewarding.
- When getting up in the morning, sit on the side of the bed for a few minutes before attempting to stand up. If you feel dizzy, sit down for a few more minutes then start again. If you are able, ask someone to bring you water and food before rising.
- Eat regular meals, particularly breakfast. Low blood sugar is no friend of people who faint!
- As a rule, blood pressure is higher during the afternoon so try to schedule your activities for that part of the day.
- Try to avoid tasks that include prolonged periods of standing, especially if having to stand still – not a good idea!
- Sleep with the top end of your bed raised a few inches. This will help prevent fluid loss during the night and keep your blood pressure up.
As soon as the weather becomes warmer, you may find you need to increase your fluid intake and take a drink more often. It is very easy to become dehydrated in the hot weather and this is one of the most common triggers. A little extra salt may also be necessary. Avoid getting overheated – ensure you have your fans for those lovely balmy days that everyone seems to enjoy, except you! Wear loose clothing.
Tried and Tested Tips
- Support tights worn during the day can help prevent blood from pooling in your legs, but remove them before going to bed.
- Regular exercise can improve the muscle tone in your legs which will help return blood to your heart, good for the legs also!
- Avoid activities that cause you to strain, such as lifting heavy objects as this can cause the heart rate to slow down and lower blood pressure. Men may benefit from sitting while they urinate.
- Small frequent meals are preferable to large meals which can cause the blood vessels to enlarge and reduce blood pressure. For the same reason it is advisable for some sufferers to avoid alcohol, or at least an excess of it.
- If working in a hot atmosphere, open plan offices or a small area. It is advisable to have a fan on hand for those days when you are not feeling one hundred percent.