Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is Heart Failure Secondary to Mitochondrial Malfunction <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
from Dr. Sarah Myhill, <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />UK physician: http://www.drmyhill.co.uk/article.cfm?id=373
Another document by Dr Myhill with diagrams: http://www.ei-resource.org/Articles/cfs-art20.asp
Two papers have come to my notice recently which make great sense of both my clinical observations and also the idea that CFS is a symptom of mitochondrial failure. The two symptoms I am looking for in CFS to make the diagnosis is firstly very poor stamina and secondly delayed fatigue. I think I can now explain these in terms of what is going on inside cells and the effects on major organs of the body (primarily the heart). More importantly, there are major implications for a test for CFS and of course management and recovery.
If mitochondria (the little batteries found inside every cell in the body) do not work properly, then the energy supply to every cell in the body will be impaired. This includes the heart. Many of the symptoms of CFS could be explained by heart failure because the heart muscle cannot work properly. Cardiologists and other doctors are used to dealing with heart failure due to poor blood supply to the heart itself. In CFS the heart failure is caused by poor muscle function and therefore strictly speaking is a cardiomyopathy. This means the function of the heart will be very abnormal, but traditional tests of heart failure, such as ECG, ECHOs, angiograms etc, will be normal.
Thanks to work by Dr Arnold Peckerman, (see the complete study at this web address):
we now know that cardiac output in CFS patients is impaired. Furthermore the level of impairment correlates very closely to the level of disability in patients. Dr Peckerman was asked by the US National Institutes of Health to develop a test for CFS in order to help them to judge the level of disability in patients claiming Social Security benefits. Peckerman is a cardiologist and on the basis that CFS presents with low blood pressure, low blood volume and perfusion defects, he surmised CFS patients were in heart failure To test this he came up with Q scores.
"Q" stands for cardiac output in litres per minute and this can be measured using a totally non-invasive method called Impedence Cardiography. This allows one to accurately measure cardiac output by measuring the electrical impedence across the chest wall. The greater the blood flow the less the impedance. This can be adjusted according to chest and body size to produce a reliable measurement (this is done using a standard algorithm). It is important to do this test when supine and again in the upright position. This is because cardiac output in healthy people will vary from 7 litres per min when lying down to 5 litres per min when standing. In healthy people this drop is not enough to affect function. But in CFS sufferers the drop may be from 5 litres lying down to 3.5 litres standing up. At this level the sufferer has a cardiac output which causes borderline organ failure.
This explains why CFS patients feel much better lying down. They have acceptable cardiac output lying down, but standing up they are in borderline heart and organ failure.
The Perfect Test for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The central problem of chronic fatigue syndrome is mitochondrial failure resulting in poor production of ATP. ATP is the currency of energy in the body and if the production of this is impaired then all cellular processes will go slow. It is not good enough to measure absolute levels of ATP in cells since this will simply reflect how well rested the sufferer is. The perfect test is to measure the rate at which ATP is recycled in cells and this test has now been developed by John McLaren Howard at Biolab in London.
Not only does this test measure the rate at which ATP is made, it also looks at where the problem lies. Production of ATP is highly dependant on magnesium status and the first part of the test studies this aspect.
The second aspect of the test measures the efficiency with which ATP is made from ADP. If this is abnormal then this could be as a result of magnesium deficiency, of low levels of Co-enzyme Q10 or of L-carnitine.
The third possibility is that the protein which transports ATP and ADP across mitochondrial membrane is impaired and this is also measured.
This test is that we now have an objective test of chronic fatigue syndrome which clearly shows this illness has a physical basis. This test clearly shows that cognitive behaviour therapy, graded exercise and anti-depressants are irrelevant in addressing the root cause of this illness.
(Based on work of Paul Cheney, MD, PhD, one of the doctors who recognized an outbreak of CFS (also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) in Incline Village at Lake Tahoe in 1984 & Stephen Sinatra, M.D., The Sinatra Solution: Metabolic Cardiology)