Published in the journal, Medicine, last month was a systematic review looking at “evidence of altered cardiac autonomic regulation in ME/CFS”.
Simply put, “cardiac autonomic regulation” refers to the body’s control system that acts unconsciously to regulate the functions of the heart such as heart rate. This has been a recurring topic in projects funded by ME Research UK, and several of the studies referenced in this new review are from research supported by the charity, including those involving Prof. Julia Newton (Aug 2007, Apr 2009 and Aug 2011) and Prof. Jo Nijs.
The review included 64 publications looking at a number of different measurements in people with ME/CFS and healthy control subjects, including resting heart rate, maximal heart rate during exercise, heart-rate response to head-up tilt testing, and resting heart-rate variability.
A meta-analysis combining the results of multiple studies found that these parameters and more were significantly abnormal in ME/CFS patients compared with controls, indicating that the illness is associated with altered autonomic cardiac function. Although the differences were not sufficiently consistent for any of these parameters to be useful on their own for diagnosis.
These findings are not news if you have been following ME Research UK-funded studies over the last few years, but it is good to see the conclusions confirmed in a meta-analysis that includes results from many other researchers.