Introduction: We aimed to gather knowledge on the cardiac autonomic modulation in patients with fibromyalgia (FM) in response to exercise and to investigate whether this population suffers from chronotropic incompetence (CI).
Methods: Fourteen women with FM (age: 46 ± 3 years; body mass index (BMI): 26.6 ± 1.4 kg/m2) and 14 gender-, BMI- (25.4 ± 1.3 kg/m2), and age-matched (age: 41 ± 4 years) healthy individuals (CTRL) took part in this cross-sectional study. A treadmill cardiorespiratory test was performed and heart-rate (HR) response during exercise was evaluated by the chronotropic reserve. HR recovery (deltaHRR) was defined as the difference between HR at peak exercise and at both first (deltaHRR1) and second (deltaHRR2) minutes after the exercise test.
Results: FM patients presented lower maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) when compared with healthy subjects (22 ± 1 versus CTRL: 32 ± 2 mL/kg/minute, respectively; P < 0.001). Additionally, FM patients presented lower chronotropic reserve (72.5 ± 5 versus CTRL: 106.1 ± 6, P < 0.001), deltaHRR1 (24.5 ± 3 versus CTRL: 32.6 ± 2, P = 0.059) and deltaHRR2 (34.3 ± 4 versus CTRL: 50.8 ± 3, P = 0.002) than their healthy peers. The prevalence of CI was 57.1% among patients with FM.
Conclusions: Patients with FM who undertook a graded exercise test may present CI and delayed HR recovery, both being indicative of cardiac autonomic impairment and higher risk of cardiovascular events and mortality.