I hope everyone has enjoyed reading this series over the past week on mitochondrial failure and dysfunction. It’s always so amazing to me how complex an illness like ME/CFS is and that researchers are making such great progress trying to get to the bottom of it.
Dr. Myhill and ME/CFS researchers believe that a person’s severity of their CFS is reflective of how severe their mitochondrial dysfunction/failure is. According to Dr. Myhill, there are two “clear stages” of fatigue:
- Mild Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
For someone who has mild case of chronic fatigue syndrome, there is mild failure of the mitochondria. Dr. Myhill says the body becomes less efficient because when the mitochondria goes slow, the cells go slow. In turn, when the cells go slow the organs go slow. Dr. Myhill explains an example of this very well:
Somebody mildly affected would not be able to increase their fitness – if they try to exercise they would quickly switch into lactic acid metabolism and would be forced to stop. Indeed we now know that mitochondria are responsible for controlling the normal ageing process. Therefore many of the symptoms and diseases associated with ageing are actually the result of mitochondrial function declining. Indeed many of these ageing diseases have now been attributed to mitochondrial failure such as loss of tissues (loss of muscle bulk), organ failures, neurodegenerative conditions, heart disease and cancer. Many symptoms which are attributed to ageing are due to mitochondria. It is not that we can stop the mitochondria from ageing, but we can certainly slow it all down using good nutrition, good diet, freedom from toxic stress, healthy lifestyles and so on.
- Severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
In severe chronic fatigue syndrome, these people have the same issues as those with the mild form plus they also have another problem that involves the heart. Dr. Myhill says the heart will go into a low output stage because the mitochondria can’t supply the heart with sufficient energy. The heart is the most metabolically demanding organ in the body. This low output stage compounds the problem of all mitochondria.
If the heart is in a low output state then blood supply is poor and therefore the fuel and oxygen necessary for the engine to work are also impaired. So this compounds all the above problems and makes them proceed even more quickly and people end up with greater disability.
Dr. Myhill believes it is a combination of the poor mitochondrial function and this can become a critical problem when it comes to cardiac output, “which precipitates a much more severe illness in someone who is already compromised.”
Don’t forget to read the other four posts in this series:
Other articles on CFS and Mitochondria Failure:
Thanks to How to Cope with Pain for including this post as part of their blog carnival.