1998 Clinical and Scientific Meeting

P. De Becker [1], I.Campine [1], E. Van Steenberge [1], M. Noppen [2], W. Vincken [2], A. Leys [1], K. De Meirleir [1]

1 Human Physiology and Medicine
2 Dept. of Pulmonary Diseases

Respiratory Symptoms and Lung Function Testing in CFS Patients

The purpose of this study is to report the prevalence of respiratory symptoms in a cohort of CFS patients and to assess the usefullness/importance of pulmonary function testing in the clinical management of these patients.

A sample of 40 consecutive CFS patients, who met the CDC (1988) and Fukuda (1994) criteria, were recruited from a University based fatigue clinic in Brussels, Belgium. Following respiratory symptoms were observed in 34 of these patients (6 CFS patients did not present any respiratory symptom at all): cough 14/40), medical history of allergy (6/40), new onset of allergy (10/40), chest tightness (14/40) and the major respiratory complaint appeared to be a pronounced exercise induced dyspnoea (29/40).

A control group consisted of a community based sample of 39 age- and sex-matched individuals, not seeking medical care and specifically denying any CFS related symptoms. Furthermore, they did not present any respiratory symptoms: only 10 subjects showed a medical history of allergy (2 penicillin, 8 hayfever - house dust).

All patients and controls underwent a standardised pulmonary function testing, measuring following parameters: forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), functional residual capacity (FRC), residual volume (RV), vital capacity (VC) and total lung capacity (TLC). In all CFS patients, a histamine bronchoprovocation test was additionally performed to determine the presence of bronchial hyperresponsiveness (defined as PD20 his < 2 mg histamine). Statistical analysis was performed using descriptive statistics and a nonparametric Mann -Whitney test.

Compared to controls (A) CFS patients (B) do not show a significant difference in TLC (mean ± SD. A: 5.941 ± 1.041; B:5.54 1 ± 0.811: p = 0.11). However, we found a significant difference between both groups in VC (A: 4.741 ± 0.901; B: 4.061 ± 0.711; p < 0.01) and in RV (A: 1.191 ± 0.331; B: 1.481 ± 0.491; p < 0,01). In 25/40 (62.5%) patients a marked bronchial hyperresponsiveness was present.

CFS patients show a significant decrease in VC, possibly due to a significant increase of RV. The incidence of bronchial hyperresponsiveness in this group is also remarkably high. These observations can, at least partial, explain the respiratory symptoms in these patients.


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