DOI: 10.1161/circ.148.suppl_1.16513 ISSN: 0009-7322

Abstract 16513: Decreased Pulmonary Blood Flow and Airway Volumes in Patients With Long COVID Syndrome Assessed by Functional Respiratory Imaging

Mariann Gyongyosi, Emilie Han, Dominika Lukovic, Eslam Samaha, Jutta K Bergler-Klein, Ena Hasimbegovic
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

Introduction: In contrast to normal chest X-ray, lung computed tomography (CT), and physiological lung and cardiac functions, many patients with long COVID syndrome suffer from shortness of breath.

Hypothesis: The aim of this study was to quantify the pulmonary blood and airway volumes of long COVID patients compared with that of healthy controls.

Methods: Patients with long COVID syndromes were included if they had PCR-verified previous (≥3 months) SARS-CoV-2 infection, had normal laboratory (e.g. inflammation, coagulation, cardiac or other organ) parameter, normal pulmonary morphology (chest X-ray and CT) and function (spirometry and body plethysmography). The lung CT images were postprocessed by Functional Respiratory imaging analysis by using 3D reconstruction with automated lung vessel segmentation algorithm. Data of the quantitative images were compared with age, gender, and BMI-matched healthy controls.

Results: Thirty patients (45±13 years, 37% male, 25.9±4.3 kg/m^2) at a median time of 256 (118-574) days after a confirmed COVID infection and 30 healthy controls (55±7y, 37% male, 26.3±2.7 kg/m^2) were included. All long COVID patients complained of dyspnoea and 14 (48.3%) patients reported thoracic pain. The total pulmonary blood volume was significantly lower in the long COVID patients compared to controls (190±24.3 mL/m^2 vs230.6±26.2 ml/m^2, p<0.001). Similarly, the capillary-small vessel blood flow (vessel cross sectional area <5 mm^2) was reduced in the long COVID population (118±19 mL vs 132±23 mL, p=0.011). (Figure). The specific image-based airway volume of the distal lung regions was lower than that of the healthy population (11.1±6.74 mL vs 17.33±7.7 mL, p<0.05).

Conclusions: Both the reduced global and capillary pulmonary blood flow, and distal airway volumes indicate impaired gas exchange and might explain the pulmonary complaints of patient with long COVID syndromes even severe months after Coronavirus infection.

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