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Home orthostatic training in chronic fatigue syndrome




Eur J Clin Invest. 2009 Nov 12. [Epub ahead of print]


Home orthostatic training in chronic fatigue syndrome - a randomized, placebo-controlled feasibility study.


Sutcliffe K, Gray J, Tan MP, Pairman J, Wilton K, Parry SW, Newton JL. UK NIHR Biomedical Research Centre in Ageing - Cardiovascular Theme, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK.



Background: Orthostatic (Tilt)-training is an effective treatment for neurally mediated hypotension (NMH). NMH is a frequent finding in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). We evaluated home orthostatic training (HOT) in CFS in a randomized placebo-controlled feasibility study.


Methods: Thirty-eight patients with CFS (Fukuda Criteria) were randomly allocated to daily tilt training (n = 19) or sham training (n = 19) for 6 months. Haemodynamic responses to standing were performed in all subjects using continuous technology (Taskforce) at enrolment, week 1, 4 and 24. Symptom response and compliance were assessed using diaries.


Results: Two patients (one from each arm) withdrew from the study. Fourteen patients in each group complied completely or partially, and patients found the training manageable and achievable. Compared to the sham group, blood pressure while standing dropped to 8.0 mmHg less in the HOT group at 4 weeks (95% CI: 1.0 to 15.0, P = 0.03). At 4 weeks, the HOT group had higher total peripheral resistance compared to the sham group; mean difference 70.2, 95% CI: -371.4 to 511.8. Changes were maintained at 6 months. There was no significant difference in fatigue between groups at 4 weeks (mean difference 1.4, 95% CI: -13.5 to 16.2), but there was a trend towards improvement in fatigue at 6 months. Compliers had lower fatigue compared to non-compliers.


Conclusions: A placebo-controlled study of HOT in CFS is feasible. HOT is well tolerated and generally complied with. A likely physiological rationale for HOT in CFS is related to reductions in orthostatic intolerance. An adequately powered study including strategies to enhance compliance is warranted.


PMID: 19912315 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]



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  • As the authors of this study note, neurally mediated hypotension is common in ME/CFS. ortostatic intolerance may also occur for reasons other than autonomic nervous system dysfunction in ME/CFS - one notable example being low blood volume. Whatever the cause, the symptoms will be familiar to most people with ME/CFS with the most obvious being feeling dizzy and faint on standing.

    Tilt-training as investigated here involves practicing specially designed exercises at home designed to improve flow of blood to the head and brain. If proven effective in larger trials tilt-training at home could be very useful in addressing the troublesome symptoms of low blood pressure in ME/CFS patients.

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