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Neurology. 2012 Oct 2;79(14):1435-9. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31826d5f95. Epub 2012 Sep 19.

Deconditioning in patients with orthostatic intolerance.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.



To study the frequency and degree of deconditioning, clinical features, and relationship between deconditioning and autonomic parameters in patients with orthostatic intolerance.


We retrospectively studied all patients seen for orthostatic intolerance at Mayo Clinic between January 2006 and June 2011, who underwent both standardized autonomic and exercise testing.


A total of 184 patients (84 with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome [POTS] and 100 without orthostatic tachycardia) fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Of these, 89% were women, and median age was 27.5 years (interquartile range [IQR] 22-37 years). Symptom duration was 4 years (IQR 2-7.8). Of the patients, 90% had deconditioning (reduced maximum oxygen uptake [VO(2max)%] <85%) during exercise. This finding was unrelated to age, gender, or duration of illness. The prevalence of deconditioning was similar between those with POTS (95%) and those with orthostatic intolerance (91%). VO(2max)% had a weak correlation with a few autonomic and laboratory parameters but adequate predictors of VO(2max)% could not be identified.


Reduced VO(2max)% consistent with deconditioning is present in almost all patients with orthostatic intolerance and may play a central role in pathophysiology. This finding provides a strong rationale for retraining in the treatment of orthostatic intolerance. None of the autonomic indices are reliable predictors of deconditioning.

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