By Emily Quiles
Alexander Tran, Bonita Vista sophomore swimmer, wrestler, water polo and roller hockey player has been diagnosed with a condition called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). The condition is a disadvantage for the athlete because there is a lack of blood flow to the brain which increases the heart rate. High heart rates can cause dizziness, fatigue, high blood pressure, and in extreme cases, heart failure. Essentially, the condition stems from Alex’s current growth rate as his heart is not able to keep up. The increase of heart rate is elicited from changes in posture to motions that are applied in sports.
“When I workout I constantly have a really fast heart rate, I just have to watch it,” Tran said.
POTS however has not discouraged this athlete. Instead, he has turned the situation around and has participated in multiple physical activities. Despite his diagnosis, Tran joined roller hockey this year for its winter season.
“Personally I don’t feel it was a big setback for him,” roller hockey varsity coach Keith Quigley said.
After discovering the condition over summer of 2013 he was required to wear a heart monitor for the first eight weeks and was closely watched by his parents. While his doctor alongside his parents attempted to discourage him from extreme athletic movement, he refused to let it stand in his way.
“It was never an option for me to where I would stop sports,” Tran said.
Tran also participates in triathlons, marathons, and mountain biking outside of high school sports. While his involvement in athletics has not been suspended, some of his fundamental routines have changed.
“There are a lot more salt shakers in the house now, we’ve also put rubber caps along the edges of the stairway in case I pass out,” Tran said.
Tran also utilizes techniques from the Air Force to help keep blood flowing to his brain during threatening moments.
“I look really weird and sound really weird, people think there’s something wrong with me, But I have to do [these exercises],” Tran said.
While the condition can threaten his safety, Tran likes to keep it to himself. He makes sure his competitors and teammates see him equally.
“He’s pretty quiet about it that I respect,” Quigley said.
Alex has gone through many severe episodes of POTS that have caused him to pass out. One in which he fainted while in the shower. This incident gave his family a scare and realization to the extremity of the condition. Nick Tran, Alex’s father, has found it a challenge to adjust to the changes, however he finds it necessary and is constantly encouraging his son to do what he desires most.
“My son has always been a fighter. I admire his tenacity by not letting this [condition] get him down. He did as the doctor instructed and slowly but surely put himself back on track,” Nick Tran said.
Tran continues to work on finding a medium to where he can participate in sports while also being aware and solicitous to the warning signs that POTS provides. In the meantime, he has begun swimming for the BVHS swim team for their spring season.