Ongoing Research Funded by DHF

Fighting Fatigue: A Widespread Symptom in IBD Patients

2022  | Disease: Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Principal Researcher: Tiffany Taft, PsyD, MIS

Principal Investigator: Tiffany Taft, PsyD, MIS, Research Associate Professor, Director of Psychogastroenterology Research, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Department of Medical Social Sciences

Fatigue remains a major issue in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Many patients find it just as debilitating as abdominal pain or bowel control. Lacking reliable therapeutic options, clinicians grapple with how to adequately manage it. Dr. Taft believes heart rate variability (HRV)—the change in time intervals between each heartbeat—may play a role. The Taft team is studying the relationship between normal HRV changes and fatigue in patients with IBD, while considering the influence of other factors such as inflammation, mood, and sleep. The investigators will measure markers of inflammation, as well as common vitamin and mineral deficiencies in IBD patients via a phlebotomist blood draw at the start of the study. Participants will wear Fitbit devices to monitor their HRV continuously over two weeks. If a relationship exists between low HRV and fatigue, improving HRV via behavioral techniques, such as slow-breathing and other relaxation methods, has the potential to greatly improve outcomes and quality of life for IBD patients living with chronic fatigue as part of their disease.

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