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Autonomic dysfunction in fibromyalgia syndrome: Postural orthostatic tachycardia - Source: Current Rheumatology Reports, Dec 2008

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By Roland Staud, MD, FACP, FACR • • November 16, 2008

Although fibromyalgia (FM) syndrome is defined by chronic widespread pain and tenderness, additional symptoms, including disabling fatigue and dizziness, are often reported by patients with this chronic illness.

Although nonrestorative sleep may play an important role for chronic fatigue in FM, other mechanisms, including dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), need to be considered.

Many important biological functions, such as heart rate, blood pressure, respirations, and bowel function, are tightly regulated by the ANS.

However, dysfunction of the ANS is common in FM and often becomes quite apparent after positional changes from supine to upright.

Although such positional changes sometimes result in syncope, they are more often associated with palpitations and dizziness.

Head-up tilt table testing can be used to evaluate autonomic dysfunction, and is frequently helpful for the work-up of FM complaints, including fatigue, dizziness, and palpitations.

One of the most common events experienced by FM patients during tilt table testing is postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, which is defined as a heart rate increase of more than 30 beats per minute after more than 3 minutes of standing upright.

Source: Current Rheumatology Reports, Dec 2008;10(6):463-466. PMID: 19007537, by Staud R. Department of Medicine, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida, USA. [E-mail:]

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