Neurol Sci. 2020 Jul 30. doi: 10.1007/s10072-020-04632-x. Online ahead of print.
INTRODUCTION: The relationship between dyspnea and COVID-19 is unknown. In COVID-19 patients, the higher prevalence of neurological symptoms and the lack of dyspnea may suggest common underlying pathogenetic mechanisms. The aim of this preliminary study is to address whether there is a lack of dyspnea in COVID-19 patients and if there is a relationship between neurological symptoms and the perception of dyspnea.
METHODS: A structured interview regarding the occurrence of subjective neurological symptoms was performed and coupled with a questionnaire about the intensity and qualities of dyspnea. Respiratory rate (RR) and an arterial blood gas on room air were concurrently evaluated.
RESULTS: Twenty-two patients (age 68.4 ± 13.9 years, 13 males and 9 females) were included and divided into two groups according to the Borg dyspnea scale: dyspneic patients BU ≥ 1(DYSP) and non-dyspneic patients BU < 1 (NDYSP). The prevalence of dyspnea overall was 31.8%. The prevalence of neurological symptoms, dyspnea descriptors, RR, pH, PaCO2, PaO2, or lactate was similar between groups.
CONCLUSION: This study confirms that the prevalence of dyspnea is low in non-severe COVID-19 patients, but contrary to our hypothesis of a relationship between shortness of breath and neurological symptoms, we have not been able to find any evidence of an impairment in dyspnea perception, either in the DYSP or NDYSP group.