Blunted Cardiovascular Stress Reactivity in Fibromyalgia With Comorbid PTSD

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Participants were exposed to an arithmetic task with harassment, and their blood pressure and heart rate were measured during the task and after recovery.
Participants were exposed to an arithmetic task with harassment, and their blood pressure and heart rate were measured during the task and after recovery.

For women with fibromyalgia, comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may contribute to blunted cardiovascular reactivity to stress, according to a study published in Pain Medicine.

The study included 18 women with fibromyalgia and comorbid PTSD, 18 women with FM without comorbid PTSD, and 38 healthy control women. Participants were exposed to an arithmetic task with harassment, and their blood pressure and heart rate were measured during the task and after recovery. Women with fibromyalgia, with or without PTSD, were found to have general blunted reactivity. Study participants with fibromyalgia and PTSD had lower levels of reactivity, as assessed by their systolic blood pressure response, compared with women with fibromyalgia only and with healthy women.

Participants with fibromyalgia with and without PTSD had lower reactivity compared with control individuals (β=–0.06, P <.001 and β=–0.03, P =.05, respectively). Systolic blood pressure response was found to be sensitive to the presence of depression in all groups. Women with fibromyalgia with and without PTSD were found to have slower rates of recovery compared with control women (β=2.84, P <.05 and β=3.52, P <.01, respectively), with final recovery state comparable with that of healthy individuals after 12 minutes.

“Future studies should consider the role of comorbid PTSD in the cardiovascular reactivity of patients with fibromyalgia in real-life settings, preferably using outpatient procedures and taking advantage of longitudinal analysis to conveniently address this objective,” the researchers wrote.

Reference

Gonzalez JL, Alonso-Fernandez M, Matias-Pompa B, Carretero I, Nieto-Bona MP, López-López A. Cardiovascular responses of women with fibromyalgia to a laboratory stressor: does post-traumatic stress disorder comorbidity matter? [published online November 22, 2018]. Pain Medicine. doi:10.1093/pm/pny210

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