Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is accompanied by reduced brain blood flow, autonomic dysfunction, and orthostatic intolerance. We hypothesized that wearing a neck compression collar would attenuate orthostatic symptoms, increase brain blood flow, and influence autonomic reflexes. Ten participants with POTS (9 women, age: 36 ± 10) underwent two trials of supine rest, paced deep breathing (6 breaths/min), Valsalva maneuver (40 mmHg for 15 s), and 70° upright tilt. For one trial, participants wore a neck compression device (Q30 Innovations). Blood pressure, heart rate (HR), brain blood flow velocity, stroke volume, respiratory rate, and end-tidal gases were continuously measured. The Vanderbilt Orthostatic Symptom Score was compiled at the end of tilt. The use of the collar reduced the orthostatic symptom score of participants with POTS during upright tilt (26.9 ± 12.5 to 18.7 ± 13.1, P = 0.04). Collar compression in the supine condition reduced the low-frequency domain of HR variability (60 ± 18 to 51 ± 23 normalized units, P = 0.04) and increased the change in HR (15 ± 5 to 17 ± 6 bpm, P = 0.02) and E:I ratio (1.2 ± 0.1 to 1.3 ± 0.1, P = 0.01) during paced deep breathing. Throughout tilt, wearing the collar reduced respiratory rate (baseline: 13 ± 3 to 12 ± 4 breath/min; tilt: 18 ± 5 to 15 ± 5 breath/min; main effect of collar P = 0.048), end-tidal oxygen (baseline: 115 ± 5 to 112 ± 5 mmHg; tilt: 122 ± 10 to 118 ± 11 mmHg; main effect of collar P = 0.026). In participants with POTS, wearing the Q-collar reduced orthostatic symptoms, increased the HR response to deep breathing, and decreased resting ventilation.
NEW & NOTEWORTHY We found that using a neck compression collar alleviated orthostatic symptoms in upright posture in participants with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). This could be due to compression of the baroreceptors and subsequent changes in autonomic function. Indeed, we observed increased heart rate responsiveness to paced deep breathing and reductions of respiratory rate and end-tidal O2 (suggesting reduced ventilation). Further, wearing the collar reduced mean blood velocity in the brain during Valsalva perhaps due to higher brain blood volume.