Use of time-frequency analysis to investigate temporal patterns of cardiac autonomic response during head-up tilt in chronic fatigue syndrome

Auton Neurosci. 2004 Jun 30;113(1-2):55-62. doi: 10.1016/j.autneu.2004.05.001.


Although a number of studies have reported alterations in cardiac autonomic nervous system function in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), the results are not consistent across studies. Reasons for these discrepancies include (1) the use of a heterogeneous patient sample that included those with orthostatic postural tachycardia (POTS), a condition with an autonomic changes, and (2) the use of frequency domain techniques which require a stationary signal and averaging data across relatively long epochs. To deal with these shortcomings, we used the smoothed pseudo-Wigner-Ville transform (SPWVT) to analyze heart rate variability (HRV) and blood pressure variability (BPV) during head-up tilt (HUT) by separating CFS patients into those with and without POTS. SPWVT has the advantage of providing instantaneous information about autonomic function under nonstable physiological conditions. We studied 18 CFS patients without POTS, eight CFS patients with POTS and 25 sedentary healthy controls during supine rest and during the first 10 min after HUT. While we found significant effects of postural change in both groups for all autonomic variables, there were significant group x time interactions between CFS without POTS and controls for only instant center frequency (ICF) within the low frequency region both from HRV (p=0.02) and from BPV (p=0.01). Although the physiological meaning of ICF still remains unknown, the data suggest that even CFS patients without POTS may have a subtle underlying disturbance in autonomic function.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiology
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Time Factors