As part of the ongoing series of ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome seminars sponsored by the Dutch ME/CFS Association, Dr. Frans C. Visser, cardiologist, speaks about heart symptoms in chronic fatigue syndrome and ME.
Because of their association with deadly heart attacks, heart symptoms - rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), pounding heart, irregular heartbeat - are among the most disturbing ME/CFS symptoms. Most patients experience tachycardia or pounding heart at one point or another during their illness, and may end up making a trip to the emergency room, particularly when it appears as a new symptom.
In this video, Dr. Visser discusses four reasons why patients experience these disturbing symptoms.
- Nervous system imbalance between cranial sympathetic (excitatory) and vagus (inhibitory) nerves
- Increase in catecholamines (adrenaline, noradrenaline)
- Immune system upregulation
- Low blood volume
While heart symptoms may be quite disturbing, Dr. Visser does not recommend treating rapid heartbeat with medications. When patients have low blood volume, the heart beats faster to supply necessary blood to vital organs. Reducing the heartrate with beta blockers will reduce blood (and oxygen) supply to vital organs, which is ultimately more harmful than the compensatory rapid heartbeat experienced by people with ME and CFS.