Chronic fatigue syndrome was linked to an abnormality in the body's mechanism for regulating blood pressure in a study that suggests that drug treatment and a high-salt diet may combat the debilitating illness.
The study of 23 adults reported in today's Journal of the American Medical Assn. expanded on earlier research by doctors at Johns Hopkins University. The earlier study found similar results with teen-agers who suffer from the disorder.
In the study of adults with chronic fatigue syndrome, all but one were found to have a disorder in regulating blood pressure, called neurally mediated hypotension.
Nine of them reported an end to their fatigue after taking drugs to boost the amount of blood in their bodies and eating a high-salt diet for about six months. Seven others said they felt their symptoms improve, researchers said.
Dr. Hugh Calkins, one of four physicians at Johns Hopkins University who authored the study, cautioned that more research is necessary to determine whether chronic fatigue can actually be cured by taking the drugs. The patients involved with the study are still being treated, he said.
Chronic fatigue syndrome, first dubbed the "yuppie flu," was recognized as a disease in 1988, but the causes have been unclear and no drug treatment has been effective.
Chronic fatigue is often triggered by trauma or an infection, and is characterized by debilitating weakness lasting six months to several years.