Long COVID & ME/CFS have similarly impaired vascular function
Researchers from Scotland found similar problems with the lining of the blood vessels (endothelium) in both people with long COVID and ME/CFS, in spite of people with ME/CFS being ill for much longer.
This suggests an increased cardiovascular risk, leading to heart attacks and strokes and “highlights the need for individuals with post-viral illnesses to be carefully monitored for cardiovascular risk and potentially prescribed treatments to lower risk.”
People with Long COVID and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) exhibit similarly impaired vascular function, by Marie Mclaughlin, Nilihan E M Sanal-Hayes, Lawrence D Hayes, Ethan C Berry, Nicholas F Sculthorpe in Am J Med. 2023 Oct 11 [doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2023.09.013]
This study aimed to compare flow-mediated dilation values between individuals with Long COVID, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), and healthy age-matched controls to assess the potential implications for clinical management and long-term health outcomes.
A case-case-control approach was employed, and flow-mediated dilation measurements were obtained from 51 participants (17 Long COVID patients, 17 ME/CFS patients, and 17 healthy age-matched controls). Flow-mediated dilation values were analysed using one-way ANOVA for between-group comparisons.
Results revealed significantly impaired endothelial function in both Long COVID and ME/CFS groups compared to healthy age-matched controls as determined by maximum % brachial artery diameter post-occlusion compared to pre-occlusion resting diameter (6.99 ± 4.33% and 6.60 ± 3.48% vs. 11.30 ± 4.44%, respectively, both p < 0.05). Notably, there was no difference in flow-mediated dilation between Long COVID and ME/CFS groups (p = 0.949), despite significantly longer illness duration in the ME/CFS group (ME/CFS: 16 ± 11.15 years vs. Long COVID: 1.36 ± 0.51 years, p < 0.0001).
The study demonstrates that both Long COVID and ME/CFS patients exhibit similarly impaired endothelial function, indicating potential vascular involvement in the pathogenesis of these post-viral illnesses. The significant reduction in flow-mediated dilation values suggests an increased cardiovascular risk in these populations, warranting careful monitoring and the development of targeted interventions to improve endothelial function and mitigate long-term health implications.