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Will an echocardiogram show anything?


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Hi everyone,

I am new to this forum. My name is Christine and I live in NH with my husband and son (2 1/2). I am also expecting and due in May. :P

I found out a few months ago that I have celiac disease (my son too) and we are on a gluten-free diet (no wheat, barley, rye, oats). Since going on the diet, I have noticed some amazing changes in my health. My autoimmune disorders seem to have disappeared and I was able to cut my thyroid meds in half. Also, I am no longer anemic or deficient in vitamins or minerals (I need to take mega vitamins and iron though). I also got pregnant after one try this time, and it had taken 6 years to have my son!

One thing that is strange however, is that I seem to have a lot more blood in my system and after going on my diet, I had a bunch of veins show up under my skin - like they are swelling. I also suddenly broke out in spider veins all over my legs and bottom ribs. My heart feels like it's always pounding (thyroid is currently normal). On a good note, I definitely have more color to my skin. I was always extremely pale and now I look more "normal".

I am still experiencing fatigue however, and this heart pounding has been worrying me - especially now that I have learned I'm pregnant! (But it started well before the pregnancy) I am short of breath quite often. I have always had low blood pressure and black out often from standing. I have always had a quick pulse. I see a naturopath (plus regular docs) and she thought maybe it was my adrenals since that can cause blacking out and LBP as well, but my tests were fine. I did find out I have Leaky Gut Syndrome. Gross name, I know. Oh, I also have been very sensitive to light and noise and chemicals in the past year or so. I read that that can be a symptom. I also have been seeing "spots" I guess you could say. I notice them when driving mostly, in my upper field of vision. It almost looks like thousands of little electric worms crawling over each other frantically. That's the best way I can describe it. (You probably think I'm nuts!)

I saw my primary doc today and my pulse rate sitting in the chair was 104 bpm. I had been sitting for about 5 minutes. My BP was something like 105 over 80 I think. She wrote "tachycardia" on the sheet and the nurse did an EKG which was fine. She made an appointment for an echocardiogram "just in case" and that is next week.

I guess my question is... Will the echo show anything? Will it show POTS if I have it? Treating my celiac disease has helped me ragin some of my health, but I still cannot exercise and feel so weak. I know there is something else.

Thanks so much for reading this! I hope you don't mind me asking your advice! I hope you are all feeling well tonight.

Chris :unsure:

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Hey, Chris, welcome to the board! It's a good idea to get that echo to see if anything structural is going on to cause these symptoms, the tach, the pounding, etc. Your cardiologist may also have you wear a 24-hour holter monitor (gives a 24 hour ekg) to see what's up. All the medical literature on POTS I've read says that the test that gives a positive (or negative) diagnosis of POTS is a tilt table test. That may be down the road for you. (The echo can't diagnose POTS--it's not a test of the autonomic nervous system.)

Many report feeling better during pregnancy because of the increased blood volume. This is clearly not the case with everyone.

Talk to your doc about wearing 30-40 compression pantyhose or thigh highs (you can buy maternity style)--s/he can write a prescription for you and they'll be covered by your health insurance (if you have it). Even if not, you may buy them yourself. I swear by them; they make me feel soooo much better, and may help you too.

The vision symtom you describe is most probably "floaters" -- quite common in both the pots and non-pots population. Annoying, but harmless.

Gotta run--hope you feel better soon!


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Hi there. I have celiac also. In reference to your statement...

"One thing that is strange however, is that I seem to have a lot more blood in my system and after going on my diet, I had a bunch of veins show up under my skin - like they are swelling. I also suddenly broke out in spider veins all over my legs and bottom ribs. My heart feels like it's always pounding (thyroid is currently normal). "

I too, have the same problem with my veins and my heart. Once I went gluten free my tachy got better, but then 4 years later it came back along with all of the symptoms of POTS. My veins popped out when I got celiac and I started getting little spider veins on my legs. My veins stand out most prominently on my arms. Very weird. My doctor's answer at the time was "you've lost your subcutaneous fat and that's why they stick out." I don't think that's the answer, but who knows.

Also, my echocardiogram showed a perfectly normal heart with a slight mitral valve prolapse (harmless, but often seen in POTS patients). You may want to get some autonomic testing done, like a tilt table and maybe some blood or urine tests for vasopressin and catecholimine levels. All mine were normal, but I still have all of the symptoms of POTS. This forum is great for helpful hints, good doctors, etc. Best wishes with your pregnancy. Hope you find answers soon.

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Thanks you both for your quick answers! I really appreciate it. I don't have a cardio yet. Right now my primary is doing these tests - mostly to humor me. She knows I'm a "reasearcher" and need to know these things (aka I'm nuts). But I have had a lot of problems with my health, especially since 1993, and the doctors often just put the crazy label on me. Of course since the crazy labels a number of health issues HAVE been diagnosed including autoimmune thyroid, PCOS, endometriosis, lupus antobodies, sjogren's syndrome antibodies, insulin resistance, celiac, and leaky gut syndrome. It makes me so mad. One doc told me I should eat better and exercize more (and maybe see a psychologist because I'm probably depressed). Well, that's kind of tough when your blood sugar is 40 and you're anemic and hypothyroid! Plus I didn't know I had celiac then, and I wasn't depressed, just sick!

I guess after the echo I'll maybe ask for the tilt table test, or at least to get referred to a cardiologist. I see there is one on the list here in NH. The office is kind of far from me, but would be worth it rather than wasting my time with more clueless doctors. I'm lucky in that I don't need an official referral to see a specialist with my insurance. I just need to set up an appointment and go.

Gena, thanks for the celiac info! That helps!

Thanks again. I'll keep you posted!


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Hi Chris,

My cardio made me have an echocardiogram while having a stress test (that's where they give you an IV with adrenaline and watch how your heart is reacting to this). It's too dificult for me to explain what they saw at that moment (I'm having severe brainfog, have to correct almost every word I type) but it made my cardio (who isn't directly known with POTS) think of this. He send me to a neuro who did the TTT and after this test he diagnosed me with POTS. I hope to have helped you with this information. Oh and btw I don't think you're nuts. I'm seeing movies on my television late at night when it isn't even on, so who's nuts :unsure:


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Hi Chris

Congratulations on your pregnancy.

I developed bad POTS with pregnancy that got worse post-partum (today I am much better--my daughter is almost 2).

I also have Hashimoto's.

I am so glad you are pursuing a correct diagnosis as early as possible. During pregnancy, and then later, during post-partum, doctors also told me that I was depressed and/or didn't exercise enough. I also saw a cardio with no knowledge of POTS who did an echo and EKG and pronounced me anxious. My condition continued to deteriorate until my endocrinologist suggested that I add salt to my diet (I had never been much of a salt consumer). I got much better for awhile, but at 7 months of pregnancy, I had to stop working. I was exhausted and dizzy nearly constantly. Anyway, you can read my "story" on the stories page of this website if you want.

Although it is usually difficult to diagnose any condition during pregnancy, the bottom line is that I think if I had seen an electrophysiologist, I might have gotten better medical care. There are some medications that are safe during pregnancy that can help POTS symptoms tremendously. Instead I suffered through many scary months of not understanding what was wrong with me and being treated by nearly every doctor like I was mentally ill.

Good luck and take care.


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Hi, Chris! I don't have a lot to add - the others have said it well - just wanted to welcome you to the board, and let you know that I'm in NH, too.

BTW, I'd really like to hear more about the leaky gut, if anyone can offer me some info on that. I've got some concerns about my son.

Congratulations on your pregnancy, Chris. And welcome!


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hello and welcome!

i don't have much to add either! i think everyone already covered all the bases.

so, i just wanted to welcome you to the board. i do hope you find some answers soon to what is causing your symptoms.

i have that annoying heart pounding symptom constantly too and i hate it...i have it even though the tachycardia is under control.

definitely let us know each step of the way what you are learning and finding out from the tests...


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Corina--I just reread your post ... That's so interesting that for a stress echo they gave you adrenaline IV! (I'd be so scared...) They do it a little different here in the states... My stress echocardiogram was done w/nothing intravenous. They do a baseline echo and then have you walk on a treadmill (exercise) for a certain length of time, measuring your heartrate and BP all the while... Then you lie back down and they do another echo, watching to see how your heart goes back to resting.

(My initial resting hr that day was 148--they brought me up to 198 on the treadmill and took me off because they didn't want to see what would happen over 200. Fun fun fun!) Has anyone else had intravenous adrenaline for their stress echo?

take care,


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Boy am I lucky, I just had to lay down during this test :P . Yes, it was very scaring because when they gave me the adrenaline my hr went up and bp got down dramaticly (dont know the figures 'cause I 'didn't feel much alive anymore :P ). They gave me something through the IV to get me back and that's when I slowly recovered. That was the first time my cardio mentioned POTS. I think it's a miracle he even had heard of it because a lot of doctors I talked to later, never had heard of this. So I'm very lucky to have this cardio, he sent me to a neuro who is a professor and nows of dysautonomia as well. So my track wasn't as long as a lot of my POTSfriends had to go through. So, in a way I'm lucky (also to have the best physical therapist in the world (I'm sorry for you guys, she's in the netherlands :P )and my familydoctor is always there to help me out when I need him).

So Chris, I hope you can find the right docs to help you out.

Good luck on your pregnancy btw.


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