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Fibromyalgia and Heart: A Clinical Trial Explores the Connection


Clinical trial explores the connection between fibromyalgia and heart rate

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic pain condition that affects many people. Scientists have been trialing the link between FM and dysautonomia, an imbalance in the autonomic nervous system. They conducted a clinical trial using heart rate variability (HRV) analysis to understand this connection better.

Clinical Trial

In the trial, researchers compared 51 female FM patients aged 18 to 65 years with 31 healthy female participants of the same age. The participants underwent a 20-minute experiment that involved alternating relaxation and cognitive stress tasks, like solving math problems. The scientists recorded their heart rates and measured their heart's electrical activity using electrocardiograms.

The researchers analyzed several HRV measures to find out how FM and dysautonomia are related. These measures included heart rate (HR), the average time between heartbeats, the difference between successive heartbeats, and the variation in intervals between normal heartbeats.

Key Findings

The trial revealed some important differences between FM patients and healthy participants. The FM patients had higher baseline heart rates than the healthy group, meaning their hearts beat faster even at rest. Additionally, their average time between heartbeats was shorter compared to the healthy participants.

When the participants faced cognitive stress (doing math problems), the FM patients showed a smaller increase in heart rate compared to the healthy participants. They also had a smaller decrease in the average time between heartbeats during stressful tasks.

Different Types of FM Patients

To understand the connection between dysautonomia and FM symptoms, the researchers divided the FM patients into three groups based on their HRV reactivity.

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Group 1: Normal Reactivity

These patients had normal HRV and reacted normally to stress. They also reported lower levels of feeling down and anxious compared to the other groups.

Group 2: Reduced Reactivity

These patients had lower HRV and reacted less to stress. They reported higher levels of feeling down and anxious.

Group 3: Impaired Reactivity

These patients had the lowest HRV and showed the least reaction to stress. They had the highest levels of feeling down and anxious.


The trial findings help us understand how FM and dysautonomia are connected. The HRV analysis showed that FM patients have lower HRV and react differently to stress compared to healthy individuals. The analysis further revealed that FM patients can be grouped into different categories based on their HRV reactivity and associated mood disturbances.

Understanding this connection can help doctors and healthcare professionals develop better treatment strategies for FM patients. By targeting dysautonomia and addressing mood issues, they can improve the quality of life for people living with fibromyalgia.

More research is needed to explore these findings further and find ways to help individuals with fibromyalgia manage their symptoms effectively.


Nature, Jan-13-23
ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03300635

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This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. CenTrial Data Ltd. does not take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. Treatments and clinical trials mentioned may not be appropriate or available for all trial participants. Outcomes from treatments and clinical trials may vary from person to person. Consult with your doctor as to whether a clinical trial is a suitable option for your condition. Assistance from generative AI tools may have been used in writing this article.