News of research that uses standard exercise testing on 2 consecutive days for ME patients. Research at Pacific Fatigue Lab at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California could shake research into ME.
On the first day patients often perform within norms or fail but when re-tested the following day the results are unique and startling.
The test measures how much energy is being produced.
Having people pedal a stationary bicycle until they can pedal no more tells researchers how much air their lungs can take in (Ventilation Max) and therefore how much oxygen they use to produce energy (VO2 Max) at their peak level of effort. Since oxygen plays a key role in the energy production process this test effectively tells researchers how much energy is being produced.
It seems obvious to anyone with ME that repeating the test when in “post exertional malaise” will probably offer very different results to the initial test pushing you to exhaustion. But amazingly this has not been looked at until now (bold added by me):
Their results are both profound and disturbing. About half of the ME/CFS patients they’ve tested do, in fact, ‘fail’ or significantly under perform in the first single exercise test – they cannot generate normal amounts of energy even when they’re ‘rested’. It’s the rest of the patients that are so intriguing, though. When you give these patients a second test a day later many of them will fail as well–and fail spectacularly.
The amount of impairment the Lab see’s can be astonishing – some patients suffer as much as a 50% drop in their ability to produce energy the next day. Ms. Stevens spoke of a twenty-something man whose next day exercise tests were worse that those of a normal 85 year old.
These kind of results have never been seen in any other kind of patient group. They are revolutionary findings and what’s even better is that research students are fascinated and want to find out more.
It doesn’t matter if she/he has heart failure or end-stage kidney disease – again and again researchers have shown that the human body – even in extremely poor health – has an amazing ability to quickly return to a baseline level of energy. That is until now.
But it’s not just that chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) patients are failing these tests, it’s also the unique way they’re failing them that’s raising eyebrows.
… suggests that something has gone awry in the basic physiological processes the body uses to produce energy in this disease.
Also the equipment and testing used is standard stuff so the research could be replicated around the world fairly easily.
Some ME patients have been using the centre to prove their incapacity when it comes to work in order to make successful insurance claims.
Sounds to me like a test that proves something siginficantly abnormal in physiology that could be used as a test for ME/CFS.
Admittedly it wouldn’t be a great test for patients because the level of illness and debility triggered by testing to exhaustion and then retesting to exhaustion whilst in crash could be significant and long lasting. But it proves something quantifiable and tangibly physical then sign me up now!
Many thanks to Michelle for featuring this story on her blog