Alteration of Autonomic Nervous System Is Associated With Severity and Outcomes in Patients With COVID-19

Link to article at PubMed

Front Physiol. 2021 May 19;12:630038. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2021.630038. eCollection 2021.


BACKGROUND: Previous studies suggest that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a systemic infection involving multiple systems, and may cause autonomic dysfunction.

OBJECTIVE: To assess autonomic function and relate the findings to the severity and outcomes in COVID-19 patients.

METHODS: We included consecutive patients with COVID-19 admitted to the 21st COVID-19 Department of the east campus of Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University from February 6 to March 7, 2020. Clinical data were collected. Heart rate variability (HRV), N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP), D-dimer, and lymphocytes and subsets counts were analysed at two time points: nucleic-acid test positive and negative. Psychological symptoms were assessed after discharge.

RESULTS: All patients were divided into a mild group (13) and a severe group (21). The latter was further divided into two categories according to the trend of HRV. Severe patients had a significantly lower standard deviation of the RR intervals (SDNN) (P < 0.001), standard deviation of the averages of NN intervals (SDANN) (P < 0.001), and a higher ratio of low- to high-frequency power (LF/HF) (P = 0.016). Linear correlations were shown among SDNN, SDANN, LF/HF, and laboratory indices (P < 0.05). Immune function, D-dimer, and NT-proBNP showed a consistent trend with HRV in severe patients (P < 0.05), and severe patients without improved HRV parameters needed a longer time to clear the virus and recover (P < 0.05).

CONCLUSION: HRV was associated with the severity of COVID-19. The changing trend of HRV was related to the prognosis, indicating that HRV measurements can be used as a non-invasive predictor for clinical outcome.

PMID:34093217 | PMC:PMC8170133 | DOI:10.3389/fphys.2021.630038

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