Emerg Med J. 2021 Aug 6:emermed-2021-211220. doi: 10.1136/emermed-2021-211220. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Exercise-induced hypoxia (EIH) has been assessed at ED triage as part of an assessment of COVID-19; however, evidence supporting this practice is incomplete. We assessed the use of a 1-minute sit-to-stand exercise test among ED patients admitted for suspected COVID-19.
METHODS: A case note review of all ED patients assessed for suspected COVID-19 between March and May 2020 at Monklands University Hospital was conducted. Demographic characteristics, clinical parameters, baseline blood tests and radiographic findings, hospital length of stay, intensive care and maximum oxygen requirement were obtained for those admitted. Using logistic regression, the association between EIH at admission triage and COVID-19 diagnosis was explored adjusting for confounding clinical parameters.
RESULTS: Of 127 ED patients admitted for possible COVID-19, 37 were ultimately diagnosed with COVID-19. 36.4% of patients with COVID-19 and EIH had a normal admission chest radiograph. In multivariate analysis, EIH was an independent predictor of COVID-19 (adjusted OR 3.73 (95% CI (1.25 to 11.15)), as were lymphocyte count, self-reported exertional dyspnoea, C-reactive peptide and radiographic changes.
CONCLUSIONS: This observational study demonstrates an association between EIH and a COVID-19 diagnosis. Over one-third of patients with COVID-19 and EIH exhibited no radiographic changes. EIH may represent an additional tool to help predict a COVID-19 diagnosis at initial presentation and may assist in triaging need for admission.