Myalgic encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is a debilitating, chronic illness, estimated to affect over 190,000 Australians. Symptoms include severe, persistent fatigue lasting for more than six months, post-exertional malaise, pain, orthostatic intolerance, and poor concentration. Whilst there are several diagnostic criteria available, the pathophysiology of the illness is not well understood and a specific diagnostic test is yet to be identified.
Research from La Trobe University has shown that people with ME/CFS have altered mitochondrial function. Data from the same participants have also been used to develop a Weighted Standing Test for assessing symptom severity, and to identify differences in blood and urine pathology results between patients and controls.
This undergraduate project analysed data from the La Trobe study in conjunction with heart rate and blood pressure data obtained during standing tests to determine if a relationship exists between mitochondrial function and autonomic symptoms in people with ME/CFS.
Barbara Howarth is an undergraduate student enrolled in the Bachelor of Medical Sciences degree. Having previously completed a Bachelor of Science degree with Honours in Physics at ANU and a Masters of Analytical Psychology at UWS, and working in the public sector in IT, she has returned to study to pursue her interest in health communication.