Study shows prevalence of anergia in people with failing hearts

March 11, 2009

With the help of a non-invasive method of monitoring human activity, doctors and researchers at Columbia University Medical Center are shedding new light on a syndrome affecting nearly 40 percent of older adults with heart failure: anergia.

Anergia, or lack of energy, is a newly delineated, criterion-based geriatric syndrome that is often overlooked or dismissed by doctors and patients alike as simply a natural tiredness associated with "old age."

Whether is a result of or perhaps a potential underlying contributing factor is not entirely clear. However, one thing is certain, researchers say: Fatigue has been shown to have independent long-term prognostic implications in patients with heart failure, suggesting that fatigue needs to be effectively evaluated not only because symptom alleviation is a target for treatment, but also because of the potential for the treatment of fatigue to influence the prognosis in patients with heart failure.

Mathew Maurer, M.D., associate professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, is the senior author of the study being published in the March 2009 edition of the Journal of Cardiac Failure.

As part of the nine-month prospective cohort study, heart failure patients were provided an actigraph - a device worn on the wrist like a watch that was used to assess physical activity, energy expenditures and sleep by measuring and recording limb movement.

Participants were instructed to wear it continuously on their non-dominant wrist for the nine months of the study. At baseline and at every three months for a total of four visits, each subject underwent a targeted physical exam including review of concomitant medications, co-morbid diagnoses, measurement of heart failure severity and distance walked during a six-minute hall walk as well as other mediating factors that might influence activity levels.

An earlier study by Dr. Maurer and the Stroud Center for the Studies of Quality of Life at Columbia University showed that anergia may stem from many conditions, including heart and kidney dysfunction, arthritis, lung disease, anemia and depression.

In the current study, Dr. Maurer, together with Susan Delisle, NP, and the Healthcare Innovation and Technology Lab at Columbia University, found significant discrepancies between self-reported fatigue and actigraphy readings, suggesting that these readings provide complimentary and important information about the link between heart failure, sleep disorders and impairments in health-related quality of life that may be operative through anergia.

Encouraged by the results, Maurer and his team have applied for a $2 million NIH grant to gather more data to further study the origins and challenges of treating anergia.

"The overall goal of our current research efforts is to develop methods to evaluate and assess the causal or contributing factors of anergia in order to develop interventions to decrease morbidity and mortality due to this syndrome," Dr. Maurer says.

Source: Columbia University Medical Center (news : web)

Explore further: Lack of Energy in Old Age Might Not Just Be Normal Part of Aging

Related Stories

US struggles to pinpoint cyber attacks: Top official

March 10, 2009

The United States often cannot quickly or reliably trace a cyber attack back to its source, even as rival nations and extremists may be looking to wage virtual war, a top official warned Tuesday.

Migraines increase stroke risk during pregnancy

March 10, 2009

Women who suffer migraines are at an increased risk of stroke during pregnancy as well as other vascular conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and blood clots, concludes a study published on today.

AT&T to put 8,000 natural-gas vehicles on road

March 11, 2009

(AP) -- AT&T Inc. said Wednesday it will spend up to $350 million over five years to buy more than 8,000 Ford Motor Co. vans and trucks, then convert them to run on compressed natural gas.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.