Therapies to manage depression and improve aerobic fitness in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) should be developed to improve their overall treatment for fatigue and disability.
This was the conclusion reached by a team led by Colin Tench of the Department of Medicine, University College, London, England, which measured aerobic fitness, muscle strength, fatigue and physical disability of 93 SLE patients and 41 sedentary controls.
A treadmill walking test was used to assess the subjects' aerobic fitness by the researchers who monitored peak and submaximal oxygen uptake, heart rate, duration of exercise and perceived exertion.
They measured strength with voluntary isometric quadriceps contraction and took account of symptoms such as mood, physical and mental fatigue, sleep and functional incapacity.
Patients with SLE were found to have significantly reduced levels of aerobic fitness and reduced exercise capacity compared to the sedentary controls patients. They also showed reduced muscle strength and their resting lung function was significantly worse than in the control group.