Trying to battle the invisible illness dysautonomia

The Spectrum, 4 October 2015

Brittany Hollinshead, an Army veteran and mother of four who was recently crowned Mrs. Ivins 2015, shared her own story about suffering from postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, or POTS, which left her body unable to compensate as she rose to a standing position.

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Student with POTS faces fears

The Charlotte Observer, 27 August 2015

Sydney Feinglass is grateful for the people who have helped her cope with her POTS diagnosis and symptoms. “The hardest part of my journey,” she said, “is when I was keeping it to myself.”

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Micturition syncope (passing out when passing water)

BBC Somerset, 25 August 2015

People who pass out while going to the toilet could be wongly diagnosed with epilepsy, according to a national charity.

Listen to the full interview here 


POTS: The teen disease you've probably never heard of

New York Parenting, 21 August 2015

Julia Swanson was a vivacious, smart, and fun-loving teen until, quite abruptly, she wasn't.

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UT Health doctor named physicia of the year by Dysautonomia International

University of Toledo News, 15 July 2015

Congratulations to Dr. Blair Grubb who has been named Physician of the Year by Dysautonomia International. Dr. Grubb will be attending STARS Patients Day on Sunday, October 4, 2015.

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Aspirin could do more harm than good for heart patients

Daily Mail, July 9, 2015

In a recent study, researchers have found that aspirin could actually harm patients who have been diagnosed with a number of heart conditions including Atrial Fibrillation. 

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Coroner calls on airlines to carry defibrillators after mother-of-two's death

The Telegraph, 16 June 2015 

A coroner has called on airlines to carry defibrillators after a business woman and mother-of-two died on a flight to Lanzarote.  Davina Tavener, 47, was travelling to the holiday destination with her husband Andrew when she fell ill about three hours into the flight, an inquest heard...

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Phone app that could save your life

Daily Mail, 16 June 2015

The new AliveCor heart monitor picks up abnormal heart rhythms in much the same way an electrocardiogram (ECG) machine in a hospital records the electrical activity of the heart.

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High Incidence of Sudden Cardiac Death in Athletes

Rare Disease Report, 16 June 2015

According to this study, a NCAA Division I basketball player has a 1 in 5,200 chance of sudden cardiac death in a given year, an alarming number higher than that found in some previous work.

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Bradley Oliver wins Child of Achievement award 

STARS, 10 June 2015

Bradley Oliver does a lot of fundraising for STARS and has recently won Child of Achievement Award at the Pride of Devon Awards 2015...

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Genetic susceptibility to syncope

CTV Calgary, 3 June 2015

Respected Canadian cardiologist/ electrophysiologist, Dr Robert Sheldon, is leading a study to pinpoint the causes of fainting. Dr Sheldon is a Board member of STARS-US and a member of STARS UK’s much respected Medical Advisory Committee.

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Testing during exercise best way to detect heart problems in endurance athletes

Canadian Running Magazine, 5 June 2015

Endurance athletes, such as marathoners and long-distance cyclists, can sometimes develop heartbeat irregularities, known as arrhythmia...

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Medford walk raises money for little-known illness POTS

May 2015, The Boston Globe

“I went from working a normal, full-time job to bedridden in a hospital in just about a week or two,” said Sarah Mendelowitz, a POTS sufferer and MIT graduate who organized Saturday’s 5K.

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Shedden mother starts up reflex anoxic seizures support group

May 2015, St.Thomas Times-Journal

Benjamin Lackey, now 17 months old, has reflex anoxic seizures – an involuntary nervous system condition that causes him to stop breathing and lose consciousness with little warning.Read more

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Fainting causes and treatment

April 2015, Pakistan News Service

Fainting, also called syncope, is a sudden, brief loss of consciousness and posture caused by decreased blood flow to the brain.

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Hospitalization after fainting can do more harm than good

April 2015, Harvard Health Publications

Doctors use something called the San Francisco Syncope Rule to identify individuals who are at low risk for serious short-term problems after fainting and who don’t need to be hospitalized.

Learn more

Heart arrhythmias give a runner pause

March 2015, Tallahassee Democrat

I remember an argument that went something like this — we all have only so many beats in our hearts and when the last one gets used, well that is it. And exercise? Well, it makes your heart beat faster so stay away from it. Of course if you understand the math of a healthy heart you know a fit heart will, over the course of a life, beat far fewer times (all other things being equal) than a heart that receives no exercise benefits. (Check out the calculator at (72-68; 49-100.7)

However, within the general rule, there are things that make us think hard. One of those topics is the interaction between arrhythmias and exercise. Learn More.

BIOTRONIK gets FDA nod for MRI-compatible ProMRI Eluna pacemaker

March 2015,

To develop an MRI-compatible pacemaker, the device itself needs to be made without any ferromagnetic components and the software and firmware that drive the device need to be capable of undergoing an MRI without the magnet field disrupting the computer programs. Read More.

Falls may be tied to irregular heartbeat

March 2015, Reuters Health

Older adults who suffer a fall are twice as likely to have a common type of irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation, according to a new study.

“These results are certainly surprising, as an association between AF and falls has not been shown in the general population before,” said Dr. Sofie Jansen of the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.  Read More.

Woman dies 36 times in one year due to rare condition

March 2015, The Telegraph

Woman releases video of the moment she is 'clinically dead' for one minute and is revived by doctors to highlight rare medical condition.

This harrowing video shows the moment that a young woman with a rare heart condition dies.

Yet for Sara Brautigam, 21, this is a regular occurence.
The alarming video was shot three years ago with the consent of Sara who has agreed for it to be released to highlight one of her medical conditions.  Read More.

Heart Rhythm Disorder

March 2015,

Mr H Z 62 year old gentleman had an episode of sweating followed by dizziness and transient loss of consciousness. He got up soon and felt fine and continued his routine activities. He felt that the episode was because of overwork, stress and lack of adequate rest. One week later Mr H Z was found dead in sleep.
Does that mean episode of unconsciousness or a transient fainting could be a warning symptom of impending doom like sudden cardiac death. This symptom is also called Syncope and is a commonly seen symptom in clinical practice. Read More.


Nervous system disorders not diagnosed properly

February 2015, The Hindu

The first Indian to deliver the T.S. Srinivasan Endowment Oration on Saturday, Christopher J. Mathias, focused on the challenges of autonomic dysfunction, and traced the formation, development and growth of autonomic medicine over the last four decades....

The autonomic nervous system is responsible for organ function and key activities such as the control of blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. Some disorders of this system are often not diagnosed or diagnosed erroneously. Proper diagnosis of these conditions is essential, as it has now reduced the necessity of unnecessary interventions, he said. Read More.

Heart check event: screenings can save a life

February 2015,

Greer Firestone considers his daughter Grace exceptional. But to him, her 15 varsity letters and overall athleticism is not what defines her. It’s the fact that she’s still breathing.

In 2011, two days after her Tower Hill High School graduation, Grace randomly collapsed while at home. Learn More.

Vasovagal syncope in humans and protective reactions in animals

February 2015,

Vasovagal syncope (VVS) is not known to occur in animals, although other similar reflex responses are common. This review examines the possible relation of these latter presumably protective reflexes in animals to VVS in humans. The goal is to provide practitioners, and ultimately their patients, a meaningful understanding of the origins and appropriate management of this unpredictable affliction. Read Article.

South Denver Cardiology First in Pacemaker Technology

February 2015, S Denver Cardiology Associates, PC

The Nanostim™ pacemaker is about the same size as a AAA battery and weighs less that a penny. Read More.

Falling into a dead faint

January 2015, The Nation - Health Matters

Fainting or swooning was so common in Victorian England that the houses of the upper classes even had a fainting room where ailing ladies - never men - could lie down on a special couch and be treated with smelling salts until they recovered. While one theory has it that either overly tight corsets or hysteria were to blame, the fact is that even in today's corsetless society, women - and yes, men too - can and occasionally do pass out.  Read More.

Syncopal Episodes Can Warn of Cardiac Conditions

January 2015, Journal of Emergency Medical Services

...Why did a healthy, young adult male pass out, and is there any correlation between Mark’s syncopal episode and the untimely death of his uncle? When EMS is evaluating a patient who has experienced a syncopal episode, they should attempt to identify a cause. Commonly, syncope is caused by a transient loss of blood supply to the brain, which can be due to dehydration, blood loss, cardiac dysrhythmias or neurologic events such as transient ischemic attacks. The fact the patient is young and healthy doesn’t negate the fact something caused him to lose consciousness. Learn more.

Mayo Clinic Study Finds Chest X-rays Offer No Benefit for Children

December 2014,

Some children are receiving chest X-rays that may be unnecessary and offer no clinical benefit to the patient, according to a Mayo Clinic study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).  Read More.

St John Ambulance gives first aid tips on fainting

December 2014,

Follow these simple steps to help someone who feels faint:

Click Here

Despite having an autonomic disorder, teen stays active

November 2014, Visalia Times-Delta

Taylor Stainbrook gets clammy, weak and white-sheet pale before she can pass out.

An episode can last a few minutes to a few hours. For an active 16-year-old athlete, that can seem like an eternity. During her sophomore year, she missed 56 days of school at Golden West High School where she's played on the varsity volleyball team since she was a freshman.

During a volleyball game, she normally plays the whole game.

"I feel better if I don't stop," she said.

She suffers from an autonomic disorder for which there is no cure but, with any luck, she may outgrow it in two to five years. Not a lot is known about Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome or, simply, POTS. It effects her digestion as well as her heart rate and blood pressure.  Learn More.

'Wireless' Pacemaker Working Well, Researchers Say

November 2014 WebMD from HealthDay Reporter

For a handful of patients who've received the first wire-free pacemaker, the results are still good after 18 months, researchers reported Wednesday.

Unlike traditional pacemakers, the new device -- marketed as Nanostim -- is completely self-contained and requires no wires to connect it to the heart muscle. It's also implanted through a catheter, which bypasses the need for a chest incision.  Read More.

Providence implants world's smallest pacemaker, a Northwest first

November 2014 Portland Business Journal

In an ongoing trend of ever-tinier medical devices, doctors at Providence Heart and Vascular Institute implanted the a vitamin-sized pacemaker into three patients last week.

The Medtronic Micra Transcatheter Pacing System is the world's smallest pacemaker, at one tenth the size of a traditional device.   Read More

Hilton Head Island-based arrhythmia awareness group hopes to expand in US

October 2014, Bluffton Today

Countless organizations in the United States are working to raise awareness and advocate research for combating dreaded diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Now, a United Kingdom-based nonprofit is aiming to make arrhythmia — heart rhythm disorder — a household word in America by 2020. Learn More