Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Exercise-induced hypoxia among emergency department patients admitted for suspected COVID-19


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.

  • COVID-19
  • infectious diseases
  • emergency care systems
  • emergency departments
  • triage

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. All data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article.

This article is made freely available for use in accordance with BMJ’s website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.