Orthostatic Intolerance in Long-Haul COVID after SARS-CoV-2: A Case-Control Comparison with Post-EBV and Insidious-Onset Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Patients
Background: As complaints of long-haul COVID patients are similar to those of ME/CFS patients and as orthostatic intolerance (OI) plays an important role in the COVID infection symptomatology, we compared 14 long-haul COVID patients with 14 ME/CFS patients with a post-viral Ebstein-Barr (EBV) onset and 14 ME/CFS patients with an insidious onset of the disease. Methods: In all patients, OI analysis by history taking and OI assessed during a tilt test, as well as cerebral blood flow measurements by extracranial Doppler, and cardiac index measurements by suprasternal Doppler during the tilt test were obtained in all patients. Results: Except for disease duration no differences were found in clinical characteristics. The prevalence of POTS was higher in the long-haul patients (100%) than in post-EBV (43%) and in insidious-onset (50%) patients (p = 0.0002). No differences between the three groups were present in the prevalence of OI, heart rate and blood pressure changes, changes in cerebral blood flow or in cardiac index during the tilt test. Conclusion: OI symptomatology and objective abnormalities of OI (abnormal cerebral blood flow and cardiac index reduction during tilt testing) are comparable to those in ME/CFS patients. It indicates that long-haul COVID is essentially the same disease as ME/CFS.