Workwell publishes three papers in a special feature on ME/CFS in the journal Work

Workwell was honored to contribute three original research papers to a recently-published special feature on ME/CFS in the journal Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation. We thank Amy Mooney, the guest editor, for spearheading this effort. This is the first time Work has featured ME/CFS and it is our hope that such collaborations can help amplify awareness about core features of this disease and how they impact patients and their caregivers. We encourage our supporters to also explore the other papers on ME/CFS included in this issue.

Our three papers highlight the importance and versatility of cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) in ME/CFS. We show that CPET provides a quantitative outcome measure for post-exertional malaise (PEM) and disability purposes, a diagnostic tool, and a reliable instrument and biomarker for research purposes.

We compared symptoms reported by ME/CFS patients and healthy controls in response to 2-day cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET). Symptoms were more diverse, occurred more often, and lasted longer in the ME/CFS group relative to healthy controls. Several symptoms appear to be unique to ME/CFS, including brain fog, decreased function, headaches, and symptoms indicative of immune activation. Very few controls reported these symptoms and indeed the majority reported feeling better, not worse, after CPET. These symptoms could be helpful when screening patients for PEM.
This paper also sheds light on the possible risks of 2-day CPET. About half of the ME/CFS patients recovered in a week or less, with the other half taking longer. Hopefully, future research will help determine which patients are at greater risk of a long-term PEM.

In this case study, we measured the effects of daily IV saline administration using cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) as an outcome measure on a 38-year-old woman with ME/CFS. We found that daily saline infusions improved cardiopulmonary responses and several symptoms throughout the study. Intravenous saline may help people with ME/CFS by allaying abnormalities that contribute to low blood pressure and a blunted heart rate.

We conducted this study to determine the statistical properties of cardiac, pulmonary, and metabolic measurements obtained during CPET in people with ME/CFS. We found that CPET measurements demonstrate adequate responsiveness and reproducibility for research purposes and clinical applications, such as using CPET as a biomarker.
We are deeply grateful to all participants who volunteered in these studies.