Caring Doctor Helps Patients with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTs)

More than 70 million people worldwide live with various forms of dysautonomia, including Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. POTS is common in the Ehlers Danlos population.

By Hunterdon County Democrat.

Dr Rudnick

Pictured (from left) are Julia Mateyka,17, of Hillsborough, Dr. Andrew Rudnick, Cardiac Electrophysiologist at Hunterdon Medical Center and Elora Ponter, 23, of Kingwood. Julia and Elora created a special education poster on Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) and presented Dr. Rudnick with a letter of appreciation for the care he has given them. (courtesy photo)

“Most people know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, but they may not know it is also Dysautonomia Awareness Month. Dysautonomia is a term used to describe several different medical conditions that cause a malfunction of the autonomic nervous system, which controls bodily functions such as heart rate, blood pressure and kidney function. One of the many forms of dysautonomia is Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). Some symptoms of POTS are dizziness, fuzzy vision, trouble concentrating, noise/light sensitivity and muscle weakness.

Elora Ponter, 23, of Kingwood and Julia Mateyka, 17, of Hillsborough, are currently living with POTS. “I was completely bed bound. I wasn’t even able to lift my head off a pillow,” Elora explained. “I had to be taken out of school. My quality of life was greatly diminished. I went from playing sports to having to go to the mall in a wheelchair.”

Dr. Andrew Rudnick, Cardiac Electrophysiologist at Hunterdon Medical Center, was the physician to diagnose her illness when she was just 16 years old. At the time, Dr. Rudnick knew very little about the condition. While POTS is not new, it was only identified in 1993. Previously, it had been classified as a number of other dysautonomia conditions. “Dr. Rudnick never stopped searching for answers,” Elora said. “His constant research and desire to help has greatly expanded his knowledge far beyond any other POTS doctor that I’ve come across.”

Until recently, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome was believed to have been caused by anxiety. While that has been disproven, there is still no evidence to prove what causes the illness other than a malfunction in the autonomic nervous system.

“I’ve been to Virginia. I’ve been to Tennessee. I’ve been to the specialists. They basically said, ‘I’m sorry but there’s nothing else we can do.’ Dr. Rudnick kept trying. He said this isn’t the end of the road,” Elora said.

Julia Mateyka of Hillsborough is currently a senior and was only diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome in February of this year, but started experiencing symptoms her freshman year. She was able to see Dr. Rudnick and he suspected Julia had POTS, but it wasn’t progressed enough for a positive diagnosis. Julia used to competitively dance, but has been forced to give that up because of her condition.

“Dr. Rudnick’s name may not be in all the medical journals, but he’s by no means any less of a doctor than many of the top names in the field of POTS. I can’t imagine where I’d be if I didn’t get the help he offered,” Julia said.

“They do all the hard work,” said Dr. Rudnick. “I do 1% and they do 99%. They have this inner toughness, this grit. They have to deal with the symptoms of POTS.”

More than 70 million people worldwide live with various forms of dysautonomia, including Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. Currently, there is no cure for any form of dysautonomia. Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome more commonly affects young women in their early to mid teens.”

“If it wasn’t for Dr. Rudnick’s willingness to try something new and tackle such a challenging disorder neither of us would have the kind of quality of life that we do now and for that we are forever grateful,” stated Elora.

For more information on Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, visit www.dysautonomiainternational.org.

Many people with Ehlers Danlos syndrome also develop POTS; therefore, it is important to be familiar with the symptoms.

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