Hypotension: Unrecognized Cause of Chronic Fatigue?

Hypotension is, in essence, low blood pressure. Neurally mediated hypotension, commonly referred to as neurocardiogenic syncope, vasodepressor syncope, the vaso-vagal reflex, and/or the fainting reflex, is a condition in which miscommunication between the heart and the brain takes place. According to Dr. Peter Rowe, a member of the Johns Hopkins University research team that studied this phenomenon, explains it this way: "We think that in these patients, the heart is generally normal and the brain is normal, but the reflex interaction between the two is what is out of kilter." Having the reflex interaction out of synch with the heart and brain triggers a dysfunction that often causes the patient to get dizzy, faint or pass out, which can be very dangerous. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a condition in which subjects suffer from extreme fatigue, muscle weakness and pain, as well as general all-over malaise. But because there are no specific tests that will determine this condition, and because so many other illnesses and diseases exhibit some of the same symptoms, it's difficult to diagnose CFS. Once all other illnesses have been eliminated, if the patient has exhibited symptoms for at least 6 months, their illness is generally labeled CFS. Is hypotension an unrecognized cause of chronic fatigue syndrome? Do the two go hand in hand? Should a person with syncope be concerned that they may also develop CFS?

Testing for Syncope in CFS Patients

Testing conducted by the John Hopkins University determined that many people who have syncope or hypotension do not have widespread fainting spells, but that most of the subjects do exhibit chronic fatigue symptoms or have been diagnosed with CFS. In the Hopkins study, though some patients did not responded favorably, many subjects who were treated for neurally mediated hypotension have displayed remarkable results. Since neurally mediated hypotension has already been established as a well-known cardiac condition with various treatments currently in place, it probably won't be long before further research will be conducted for more conclusive evidence to indicate that syncope may in fact be a precursor to CFS.

CFS Signs Syncope Subjects Should Watch For

Patients are diagnosed with CFS only after other illnesses have been eliminated and varying degrees of pain, malaise, and fatigue have lasted for 6 months or more. Patients also must display at least four of the following issues:

  • Substantial impairment in concentration and/or short term memory loss
  • Tenderness of the throat (sore throat)
  • Tender lymph nodes
  • All over muscle pain
  • Multi-joint pain without swelling or redness
  • Headaches that may follow a new pattern or be more severe than usual
  • Insomnia or waking after a full night of sleep and still feeling tired
  • Malaise that has lasted more than a full day





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