Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Disease Health Center

Font Size

Exercise May Help Treat POTS Heart Condition

Study Shows Exercise Program Is Effective for Heart Condition Also Known as 'Grinch Syndrome'
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

June 20, 2011 -- An exercise training program worked better than medication for those with a debilitating heart problem that's dubbed the "Grinch syndrome," new research suggests.

The condition is so named because those who suffer from it have a heart that's too small.

The medical term for the condition is POTS, short for postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. About 500,000 in the U.S., mostly young women, are affected.

Among other symptoms, those with POTS have a rapid increase in their heartbeat when they change from lying down to standing. The volume of blood pumped out from the heart with each beat is low. That can make it difficult to stand for long periods. Quality of life can suffer greatly.

''We have come to the conclusion that the essence of the condition is a small, atrophied, deconditioned heart," says study researcher Benjamin D. Levine, MD, director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital and professor of medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas.

In the new research, he says, "the heart was too small, we made it bigger [through exercise] and the symptoms went away."

The team found the same benefits to exercise in a previous study. However, in the new study, they found that exercise training made patients feel better without using the beta-blocker medication commonly given to lower the heart rate.

The study results are potentially good news for people like Amy Krakower, 26, a San Diego law school graduate diagnosed at age 23 with the condition. She was so affected, she tells WebMD, that "I couldn't walk up the stairs to my contracts class without feeling like a 90-year-old woman."

In his small study, Levine found that a rigorous exercise program, which began with participants exercising on recumbent equipment, helped many and cured 10 of 19 patients.

The study is published in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Exercise Program for Grinch Syndrome

Levine and his team evaluated 19 people with POTS (including one man) and compared them to 15 people without the condition (including one man).

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

x-ray of human heart
A visual guide.
atrial fibrillation
Symptoms and causes.
heart rate graph
10 things to never do.
heart rate
Get the facts.
empty football helmet
red wine
eating blueberries
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Inside A Heart Attack
Omega 3 Sources
Salt Shockers
lowering blood pressure