Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) commonly exhibit orthostatic intolerance. Abnormal sympathetic predominance in the autonomic cardiovascular response to gravitational stimuli was previously described in numerous studies. The aim of the current study was to describe cardiological and clinical characteristics of Italian patients with CFS. All of the patients were of Caucasian ethnicity and had been referred to our center, the Cardiology Department of the University Hospital of Pavia (Pavia, Italy) with suspected CFS. A total of 44 patients with suspected CFS were included in the present study and the diagnosis was confirmed in 19 patients according to recent clinical guidelines. The characteristics at baseline of the population confirm findings from various previous reports regarding the prevalence in females with a female to male ratio of 4:1, the age of onset of the pathology and the presence of previous infection by the Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus and other human herpesviruses. Despite the current data indicating that the majority of the cardiological parameters investigated are not significantly different in patients with and without CFS, a significant association between the disease and low levels of blood pressure was identified. Other pilot studies revealed a higher prevalence of hypotension and orthostatic intolerance in patients with CFS. Furthermore, many of the CFS symptoms, including fatigue, vertigo, decreased concentration, tremors and nausea, may be explained by hypotension.
Keywords: blood pressure; cardiological parameters; chronic fatigue syndrome; epidemiology; orthostatic intolerance.