Cardiopulmonary exercise testing following COVID-19 infection
Dr Jonathan Fuld
Institution or company
Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
The coronavirus disease pandemic has led to a number of previously fit and healthy individuals presenting with post-Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) syndrome.
Although poorly understood, symptoms including breathlessness on exertion, persistent cough, palpitations and “brain fog” have been described. Pathways to investigate patients presenting with ongoing symptoms following acute Covid-19 infection have been proposed for primary and secondary care.
Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET), which assesses heart and lung function as a subject exercises up to their maximum capacity, may be helpful in further investigating heart, lung or muscle changes responsible for reduced exercise capacity and exertional symptoms in these patients. CPET has an established role in diagnosing and staging heart and lung disease as well as quantifying aerobic fitness and revealing the cause of unexplained breathlessness. We will hopefully gain new insights into the problems people face as well as appropriate treatment after COVID. It cannot be assumed that the graded approach to exercise used for sufferers of ME/CFS is appropriate for post COVID-19 patients, with personalised exercise prescription recommended by NICE.
In the knowledge of varying clinical presentation and symptom progression following acute Covid-19 infection we are undertaking and analysing exercise responses in up to 80 patients who have previously had COVID who are willing to undertake the test.
We are currently beginning to conduct the tests and soon plan to analyse and share the results as well as relate them to other patient findings.