With all the normal stresses of everyday adult life, it’s normal to feel tired. However, it is not normal for tiredness to impact your quality of life.
If this is happening, you may have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Did you know that chronic fatigue can actually have a significant impact on your heart health?
Left untreated, chronic fatigue heart issues can lead to serious health complications, so it’s important to be aware of the symptoms and seek medical help if you think you may have this condition.
What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medically unexplained chronic illness characterized by extreme fatigue that lasts for 6 months or longer. People with CFS often find it difficult to perform even basic tasks like showering, dressing, or cooking.
Those who suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome often describe the extreme tiredness as a debilitating condition. CFS is a chronic condition, meaning it lasts for a prolonged period of time and cannot be cured.
What Are The Symptoms Of Chronic Fatigue?
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms vary from person to person and can mimic other conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, common symptoms of chronic fatigue can include:
- Extreme fatigue that lasts for 6 months or longer
- Difficulty performing everyday tasks
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Sleep problems
- Sore throat
- Enlarged lymph nodes
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor for a proper diagnosis. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is usually diagnosed through a combination of medical history, physical examination, and laboratory tests. There is no single test that can diagnose CFS.
What Are The Risk Factors For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
There is no known cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but there are several risk factors that may play a role in its development. These include:
According to research presented by the National Library of Medicine, CFS may be triggered by viral infections, such as the Epstein-Barr virus and Cytomegalovirus.
Immune System Dysfunction
People with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome often have abnormalities in their immune system, which may contribute to the development of the condition.
Stressful life events or moments that result in sudden onset stress may trigger Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
If you’ve ever wondered how stress and heart health are connected, we wrote an entire article on it!
What Chronic Fatigue Heart Issues Are There?
Recent research has shown that people with CFS are at a higher risk for heart disease and stroke. This is likely due to the fact that CFS can lead to inflammation throughout the body, (including the heart), as well as impaired cardiac function.
Chronic fatigue heart abnormalities also include:
Low Blood Volume
Studies have shown that lower blood volumes can mean more severe cases of CFS. Low blood volume may be a factor in many of the symptoms associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, such as dizziness.
Postural Tachycardia is a condition where the heart speeds up abnormally upon rising from a lying or seated position and it is significantly more common in those with CFS.
Postural Tachycardia typically occurs alongside Orthostatic Intolerance. Orthostatic Intolerance refers to dizziness or fainting upon standing, and is caused by your blood pressure failing to momentarily increase upon rising.
Low Heart Rate Variability
Normal heart rates vary day to night in conjunction with our breathing in order to provide us with a restful sleep. Low Heart Rate Variability suggests an issue with the heart’s ability to keep a typical rhythm, otherwise known as “Normal Sinus Rhythm”. This abnormality is likely a contributing factor in the debilitating tiredness felt by those with CFS.
Smaller Left Ventricle
Ventricles are the heart chambers that pump blood from the heart. We have a left and a right ventricle.
Some individuals with CFS have been shown to have “smaller hearts”, resulting in a lower cardiac output and impaired overall function.
Should I Seek Medical Help If I Am Chronically Tired?
If you’re experiencing chronic fatigue, there’s a good chance that it’s not just a physical problem.
In addition to chronic fatigue heart issues, chronic fatigue can also have a significant impact on your mental health. In fact, people with CFS suffer from inordinately high levels of anxiety and depression.
We live in a world where “burning the candle at both ends” is often celebrated, so being chronically tired doesn’t automatically mean that you have CFS. Stresses from work, global events, and life pressures can compound over time and cause severe mental exhaustion. If you are feeling overwhelmed, you can try:
- Taking a break: Press the pause button and get some fresh air, read a book, have a bath, or meditate. Even a few minutes for yourself can help.
- Exercising: Exercise is equally as good for the mind as it is for the body. Go for a walk, hit the gym, or do some jumping jacks in front of the TV to get those “feel-good” endorphins flowing.
- Talking to a friend: Science shows that close friendships are good for the heart and mind. Even if you aren’t comfortable talking about what you’re going through, research suggests that simply act of connecting with a friend or loved one will make you feel better.
Mental exhaustion can be just as debilitating and strenuous on the heart, and it can manifest itself in physical symptoms. If you are feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, or uninspired, it’s important to seek care.
If you are experiencing any kind of chronic fatigue, it’s important to get medical help. Your doctor can perform a physical exam and order tests to rule out other conditions. Once a diagnosis is made, a treatment plan can be developed to help you manage your symptoms. There’s no one-size-fits-all treatment, but your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, medications, or other therapies to help manage your symptoms.
If you’re struggling with chronic fatigue, don’t be disheartened or embarrassed – this is not ‘laziness’. Reach out for help.
Has your doctor recommended a heart test? Check out our recent blog Heart Tests: What They Are and Where To Get Them for more information.
It’s one thing to feel sleepy sometimes, but it’s another thing if tiredness impedes your day-to-day. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can have a significant impact on your heart health, so it’s important to be aware of the symptoms and seek medical help if you think you may have CFS.