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Fatigue severity remains stable over time and independently associated with orthostatic symptoms in chronic fatigue syndrome: A longitudinal study – Source: Journal of Internal Medicine, Oct 20, 2010

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By DEJ Jones, et al. • • November 18, 2010

[Note: orthostatic symptoms are measurable abnormalities in autonomic nervous system's ability to regulate blood pressure and heart rate as needed.]

Objectives: To examine fatigue variability over time in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and the effect of other symptoms on its predictability.

Design: Longitudinal cohort study of patients with CFS (Fukuda criteria).

Setting: Specialist CFS clinical service


Phase 1: 100 patients who participated in a study of CFS symptoms in 2005 were revisited in 2009.

Phase 2: 25 patients completed fatigue diaries to address intra- and inter-day variability in perceived fatigue.

Main outcome measures: Phase 1: subjects completed fatigue impact scale (FIS), Epworth sleepiness scale (ESS), orthostatic grading scale (OGS) and hospital anxiety and depression scale (HADS). Changes in variables represented the differences between 2005 and 2009. Phase 2: subjects rated fatigue on a scale of 0 (no fatigue) to 10 (severe fatigue) four times a day for 5 weeks.

Results: Symptom assessment tools were available in both 2005 and 2009 for 74% of patients. FIS and HADS depression (HAD-D) and anxiety (HAD-A) scores significantly improved during follow-up whereas ESS and OGS remained stable.

FIS improved in 29/74 (39%) subjects, and by ?10 points in 19 (26%).

FIS worsened by ?10 points in 33/74 (45%) subjects.

On multivariate analysis, independent predictors of current fatigue (FIS in 2009) were FIS in 2005, HAD-D in 2009, OGS in 2009 and change in HAD-A.

Reported fatigue was stable from week to week and from day to day.

Patients reported higher fatigue in the morning (mean ± SD; 6.4 ± 2), becoming significantly lower at lunchtime (6.2 ± 2; P < 0.05) and increasing again to 7 ± 2 at bedtime.

Conclusions: Current fatigue is independently associated with current autonomic symptom burden, current depression and change in anxiety during follow-up.

These findings have implications for targeted symptom management in CFS.

Source: Journal of Internal Medicine, Oct 20, 2010. PMID: 21073560, by Jones DEJ, Gray J, Frith J, Newton JL. UK NIHR Biomedical Centre in Ageing, Institute of Cellular Medicine, Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, Newcastle UK.

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