Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chronic fatigue syndrome: System under stress

Date:
November 15, 2012
Source:
University of New South Wales
Summary:
Evidence links autonomic functioning to cognitive impairment in chronic fatigue syndrome.

Australian researchers have discovered for the first time that reduced heart rate variability -- or changes in heart beat timing -- best predicts cognitive disturbances, such as concentration difficulties commonly reported by people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). This adds to the growing body of evidence linking autonomic nervous system imbalance to symptoms of this poorly understood disorder.

Related Articles


The findings are reported in the journal PLOS ONE.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is characterised by medically unexplained, disabling fatigue and neuropsychiatric symptoms of at least six months' duration. The disturbance underlying the symptoms in CFS is still poorly understood.

"We have studied autonomic function in CFS for some time and our findings clearly indicate a loss of integrity in stress-responsive neural and physiological systems in CFS. Patients with this condition are hyper-responsive to challenges arising both from within the body and from the environment," says lead researcher, Associate Professor Ute Vollmer-Conna of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

"Even when they sleep, their stress-responsive neural systems are on high alert, signalling that it is not safe to relax. I think this condition may be understood by analogy to post-traumatic stress disorder, just that in CFS the original trauma is most likely a physiological, internal one, such as a severe infection."

In a study of 30 patients with CFS and 40 healthy individuals, UNSW researchers recorded the heart beats of participants (via ECG) and analysed cardiac responses to cognitive challenges, and associations with mental performance outcomes.

The patients with CFS performed with similar accuracy, but they took significantly longer to complete the tests than people without the condition. They also had greater heart rate reactivity; low and unresponsive heart rate variability; and prolonged heart rate-recovery after the cognitive challenge.

Resting heart rate variability (an index of vagus nerve activity) was identified as the only significant predictor of cognitive outcomes, while current levels of fatigue and other symptoms did not relate to cognitive performance.

"This is the first demonstration of an association between reduced cardiac vagal tone and cognitive impairment in CFS. Our findings confirm previous reports of a significant loss of vagal modulation, which becomes particularly apparent when dealing with challenging tasks. The current results are consistent with the notion that CFS represents a 'system under stress'," Associate Professor Vollmer-Conna says.

The findings could lead to new ways to improve cognitive difficulties in people with CFS, including biofeedback assisted retraining of autonomic functioning, the researchers say.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New South Wales. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alison Beaumont, Alexander R. Burton, Jim Lemon, Barbara K. Bennett, Andrew Lloyd, Uté Vollmer-Conna. Reduced Cardiac Vagal Modulation Impacts on Cognitive Performance in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (11): e49518 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049518

Cite This Page:

University of New South Wales. "Chronic fatigue syndrome: System under stress." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121115133806.htm>.
University of New South Wales. (2012, November 15). Chronic fatigue syndrome: System under stress. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121115133806.htm
University of New South Wales. "Chronic fatigue syndrome: System under stress." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121115133806.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) — Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola: Life Without School in Guinea

Ebola: Life Without School in Guinea

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) — Following the closure of schools and universities in Guinea because of the Ebola virus, students look for temporary work or gather in makeshift classrooms to catch up on their syllabus. Duration: 02:14 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins