Orthostatic intolerance in chronic fatigue syndrome, by Richard Garner and James N Baraniuk in Journal of Translational Medicine 2019 17:185 [Published: 3 June 2019]


Research abstract:

Orthostatic intolerance (OI) is a significant problem for those with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). We aimed to characterize orthostatic intolerance in CFS and to study the effects of exercise on OI.

CFS (n = 39) and control (n = 25) subjects had recumbent and standing symptoms assessed using the 20-point, anchored, ordinal Gracely Box Scale before and after submaximal exercise. The change in heart rate (ΔHR ≥ 30 bpm) identified Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) before and after exercise, and the transient, exercise-induced postural tachycardia Stress Test Activated Reversible Tachycardia (START) phenotype only after exercise.

Dizziness and lightheadedness were found in 41% of recumbent CFS subjects and in 72% of standing CFS subjects. Orthostatic tachycardia did not account for OI symptoms in CFS. ROC analysis with a threshold ≥ 2/20 on the Gracely Box Scale stratified CFS subjects into three groups: No OI (symptoms < 2), Postural OI (only standing symptoms ≥ 2), and Persistent OI (recumbent and standing symptoms ≥ 2).

Dizziness and Lightheadedness symptoms while recumbent are an underreported finding in CFS and should be measured when doing a clinical evaluation to diagnose orthostatic intolerance. POTS was found in 6 and START was found in 10 CFS subjects. Persistent OI had symptoms while recumbent and standing, highest symptom severity, and lability in symptoms after exercise.

Trial registration:  https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03567811

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