Scientists from the University of Leeds developed a test to help patients manage long COVID at home.
The adapted Autonomic Profile (aAP) test can be done by anyone with symptoms of autonomic dysfunction in conditions such as long COVID, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and diabetes 1 and 2 where people get feelings such as dizziness or blackouts.
Autonomic testing is usually done on a single occasion in a hospital. Patients lie on a tilt table, and their heart rate and blood pressure are measured as the table is maneuvered from the horizontal position to the vertical.
The new aAP test can be done at home, meaning patients can better understand and self-manage their condition over time, as well as monitor the effectiveness of treatment prescribed by clinicians.
It also reduces the demand for NHS resources.
By recording their blood pressure and heart rate at key times and in response to key activities, patients can work out if foods, exercise, or other activities trigger their symptoms, and make lifestyle changes accordingly.
The results can also be shared with clinicians to help them understand how patients’ bodies react to common triggers and stimuli in everyday life.
The team says fluctuations in the condition, referred to as crashes, are one of the biggest problems long COVID patients face.
The aAP test allows patients to capture these fluctuations more reliably, in addition to having a one-off test in the hospital.
The test enables capturing symptoms in relation to physical activities, mental work, emotional stress, and food intake.
This allows them to make adjustments to their daily activities and avoid fluctuations as much as possible. This can be very empowering for patients.
Development of the aAP began during the COVID-19 pandemic to enable patients to undergo testing and monitoring at home, rather than attend the hospital.
It involves patients using a blood pressure monitor and heart rate monitor at home to observe physiological responses to key activities in daily life. Readings are taken on waking, after meals, after exertion, and before sleep.
Unlike other standardized tests, there is no need to abstain from caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, or medications for the aAP, as the purpose is for patients to test in their daily life the reaction to common stimuli and record normal or abnormal autonomic responses.
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The research was published in Advances in Clinical Neuroscience & Rehabilitation and conducted by Dr. Manoj Sivan et al.
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