YaleNews recently published an article (19/12/23) which discusses research on exercise intolerance, a common symptom of long COVID. Tests often show no limitations in lung or heart function to explain patients’ symptoms. The researchers used an invasive cardiopulmonary exercise test (iCPET) to further evaluate patients.
The iCPET involves inserting catheters to measure various parameters while patients exercise. 55 long COVID patients with unexplained exercise intolerance underwent iCPET.
The study found these patients had compromised oxygen extraction by tissues, despite adequate oxygenation from the heart and lungs. This helps explain their symptoms and provides patients validation, which is important to many.
The findings go against hypotheses that deconditioning alone causes the exercise intolerance. While informative, iCPET is invasive and not widely available. The findings could help develop less invasive diagnostic tests in the future.
In conclusion, the study provides insight into the physiological abnormalities underlying long COVID exercise intolerance. This presents opportunities for less invasive testing methods and targeted treatment development.
The full article, with the link to the original study, can be read here.