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Pulmonology ; 2022 Mar 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1763951


AIM: To determine whether the duration of respiratory distress symptoms in severe COVID-19 pneumonia affects the need for invasive mechanical ventilation and clinical outcomes. MATERIALS AND METHODS: An observational multicentre cohort study of patients hospitalised in five COVID-19-designated ICUs of the University Hospitals of Emilia-Romagna Region. Patients included were adults with pneumonia due to SARS-CoV-2 with PaO2/FiO2 ratio <300 mmHg, respiratory distress symptoms, and need for mechanical ventilation (invasive or non-invasive). Exclusion criteria were an uncertain time of respiratory distress, end-of-life decision, and mechanical respiratory support before hospital admission. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: We analysed 171 patients stratified into tertiles according to respiratory distress duration (distress time, DT) before application of mechanical ventilation support. The rate of patients requiring invasive mechanical ventilation was significantly different (p < 0.001) among the tertiles: 17/57 patients in the shortest duration, 29/57 in the intermediate duration, and 40/57 in the longest duration. The respiratory distress time significantly increased the risk of invasive ventilation in the univariate analysis (OR 5.5 [CI 2.48-12.35], p = 0.003). Multivariable regression analysis confirmed this association (OR 10.7 [CI 2.89-39.41], p < 0.001). Clinical outcomes (mortality and hospital stay) did not show significant differences between DT tertiles. DISCUSSION: Albeit preliminary and retrospective, our data raised the hypothesis that the duration of respiratory distress symptoms may play a role in COVID-19 patients' need for invasive mechanical ventilation. Furthermore, our observations suggested that specific strategies may be directed towards identifying and managing early symptoms of respiratory distress, regardless of the levels of hypoxemia and the severity of the dyspnoea itself.