Clinical Variables Related to Functional Capacity and Exertional Desaturation in Patients with COVID-19

Santiago Larrateguy, Julian Vinagre, Federico Londero, Johana Dabin, Evangelina Ricciardi, Santiago Jeanpaul, Rodrigo Torres-Castro, Rodrigo Núñez-Cortés, Diana Sánchez-Ramírez, Elena Gimeno-Santos, Isabel Blanco

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review


Impaired functional capacity is one of the most commonly reported consequences among post-COVID-19 patients. This study aimed to analyse the clinical variables related to functional capacity and exertional desaturation in post-COVID-19 patients at the time of hospital discharge. A cross-sectional study was conducted on patients recovering from COVID-19 pneumonia. The main outcomes measures were functional capacity, assessed using the 1 min sit-to-stand test (1 min STST), and exertional desaturation, defined as a drop of ≥4% in the arterial oxygen saturation. Factors used to characterise the participant outcomes included the use of a high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC), prolonged hospitalisation, occurrence of pulmonary embolism during hospitalisation, and underlying comorbidities. A total of 381 participants (mean age = 53.7 ± 13.2 years, 65.6% men) were included. Participants completed a mean of 16.9 ± 6.2 repetitions in the 1 min STST. Exertional desaturation was observed in 51% of the patients. Higher odds of exertional desaturation were found in the participants who used a HFNC (OR = 3.6; 95%CI: 1.6 to 7.8), were admitted in the hospital >10 days (OR = 4.2; 95%CI: 2.6 to 6.8), and had a pulmonary embolism (OR = 3.5; 95%CI: 2.2. to 5.3). Use of a HFNC (β = −3.4; 95%CI: −5.3 to −1.44), a hospital stay >10 days (β = −2.2; 95%CI: −3.4 to −0.9), and a history of pulmonary embolism (β = −1.4; 95%CI: −2.6 to −0.2) were also negatively associated with the 1 min STST. Most post-COVID-19 patients exhibited reduced functional capacity at the time of hospital discharge, and approximately half had exertional desaturation after the 1 min STST. The use of a HFNC, prolonged hospitalisation and pulmonary embolism were the main clinical variables associated with worse a 1 min STST performance and a higher likelihood of exertional desaturation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2051
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • coronavirus disease 2019
  • COVID-19
  • exercise capacity
  • rehabilitation
  • SARS-CoV-2


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