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Cardiac dysfunction and orthostatic intolerance in patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis and a small left ventricle

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By K. Miwa • • April 22, 2014

By K. Miwa


The etiology of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is unknown. Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) has been recently postulated to be the cause of CFS. Orthostatic intolerance (OI) has been known as an important symptom in predicting quality of life in CFS patients. Cardiac function may be impaired in patients with ME.

The presence or absence of OI was determined both symptomatically and by using a 10-min stand-up test in 40 ME patients. Left ventricular (LV) dimensions and function were determined echocardiographically in the ME patients compared to 40 control subjects.

OI was noted in 35 (97 %) of the 36 ME patients who could stand up quickly. The mean values for the cardiothoracic ratio, systemic systolic and diastolic pressures, LV end-diastolic diameter (EDD), LV end-systolic diameter, stroke volume index, cardiac index and LV mass index were all significantly smaller in the ME group than in the controls. Both a small LVEDD (<40 mm, 45 vs. 3 %) and a low cardiac index (<2 l/min/mm2, 53 vs. 8 %) were significantly more common in the ME group than in the controls. Both heart rate and LV ejection fraction were similar between the groups.

In conclusion, a small LV size with a low cardiac output was common in ME patients, in whom OI was extremely common. Cardiac dysfunction with a small heart appears to be related to the symptoms of ME.

Source: Miwa K. Heart Vessels. 2014 Apr 16. [Epub ahead of print]

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