Reduced Blood Flow to Head in Post-Exertional Malaise

Reduced Blood Flow to Head in Post-Exertional Malaise

Reduced Cerebral Blood Flow (CBF) -- including while lying down -- may underlie the pathophysiology of Post-Exertional Malaise (PEM) in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME).

Lumia Health recently collaborated with Workwell Foundation on a 2-day CPET pilot research project, and the surprising findings were shared as a poster session at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) annual conference.


Blood Flow to Head Research - CBF - in Post Exertional Malaise


PURPOSE: A novel in-ear device provided by Lumia Health was used to measure blood flow to the head via the external carotid artery as a proxy for CBF. The goal was to determine if there would be measurable differences in Flow during PEM induced by exercise testing (CPET).

METHODS: One patient with ME and one control subject underwent 2-day CPET to induce PEM. Lumia’s Flow Index was measured supine and during an orthostatic challenge (10 min standing) before CPET on both days.

RESULTS: CPET results confirmed PEM in the ME patient, with a 34% reduction in Work at the Anaerobic Threshold (AT). Relative to the Day 1 supine baseline, the ME patient experiencing Day 2 PEM had a large 17% reduction in supine Flow and a 23% reduction during orthostasis (10 min standing). In contrast, the control subject did not demonstrate PEM (1% reduction in Work at AT) and had a small 5% reduction in supine Flow on Day 2 relative to the Day 1 supine baseline. The control subject did not conduct the orthostatic challenge.

CONCLUSION: Diminished Blood Flow during PEM may provide an objective mechanism underlying patient symptomatology for ME patients. The Lumia device has the potential to serve both as a diagnostic biomarker and as a biofeedback tool for ME patients to better self-manage their symptoms.

This collaboration with Workwell Foundation was a n-of-1 "proof of concept" study to help illuminate the nature of Post-Exertional Malaise in people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. A subsequent larger study is being planned to verify this phenomenon in more individuals experiencing PEM.

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