Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): physical & cardiovascular deconditioning

We investigated whether chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients have
physical and/or cardiovascular de-conditioning, in 273 CFS
patients and 72 healthy controls. We used laboratory tests to
assess haematological, biochemical, endocrinological and
immunological systems. The cardiovascular system was assessed
by echocardiography and carotid echography. Body composition
was determined by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). CFS
patients had smaller left ventricular end systolic (p < 0.001)
and diastolic (p = 0.008) dimensions but thinner posterior
walls (p = 0.02) than corresponding values in healthy
controls. Left ventricular mass was also reduced in CFS
patients (p = 0.006). Both maximum (p < 0.001) and minimum (p
< 0.008) diameter of the carotid artery were smaller in CFS
patients. The laboratory screening tests showed significant
differences in serum albumin (p = 0.05), phosphate (p = 0.02),
HDL-cholesterol (p = 0.03), HDL:total cholesterol ratio (p =
0.01), triglycerides (p = 0.02), neutrophils (p = 0.01) and
thyroid-stimulating hormone (p = 0.04) between CFS patients
and controls. Male CFS patients had an increased percentage of
fat mass compared with healthy male subjects (p = 0.02). This
large group of CFS patients had evidence of physical and
cardiovascular de-conditioning, suggesting that in these
patients a graded exercise programme could lead to physical
reconditioning and could increase their ability to perform
physical activities.

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