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The role of delayed orthostatic hypotension in the pathogenesis of chronic fatigue


Past studies have shown that severe fatigue was the presenting symptom in six of seven patients with delayed orthostatic hypotension and that tilt table-induced hypotension was found in 22 of 23 patients with the chronic fatigue syndrome. We have determined the prevalence of fatigue, volunteered in response to a nonspecific pre-examination questionnaire used in 431 patients, each subsequently diagnosed as having one of eight neurological or endocrine disorders. The results show that fatigue is a very common symptom in patients with delayed orthostatic hypotension (n=21), as well as both primary (n=30) and secondary (n=106) hypocortisolism: 70–83% in all groups. In contrast, fatigue was an uncommon complaint in patients with multiple system atrophy (MSA) (n=30), pituitary dosorders without hypocortisolism (n=106) or idiopathic hirsutism (n=96): 7–33% in all groups, and was intermediate in prevalence in patients with acute hyperadrenergic orthostatic hypotension (n=32): 41%. It is concluded that fatigue commonly results from delayed orthostatic hypotension and all forms of hypocortisolism but is less common in patients with acute orthostatic hypotension, both idiopathic and due to MSA, which more commonly present with lightheadedness or syncope.

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Correspondence to Dr David H. P. Streeten MB DPhil FRCP.

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Streeten, D.H.P., Anderson, G.H. The role of delayed orthostatic hypotension in the pathogenesis of chronic fatigue. Clinical Autonomic Research 8, 119–124 (1998).

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  • chronic fatigue
  • neurally mediated hypotension
  • acute orthostatic hypotension
  • delayed orthostatic hypotension
  • hypocortisolism