New Delhi, September 22
A cough analysis could soon reveal disease severity in COVID-19 patients, researchers said.
Differences in cough sounds depending on the severity of the respiratory condition were observed, the research team led by the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), Barcelona, Spain, said.
The results indicated that analysing coughs could help categorise Covid patients as mild, moderate, or severe and also monitor those with persistent infection, they said in their study published in the European Respiratory Journal Open Research.
Cough sounds of 70 patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection were recorded on the smartphone in the first 24 hours following hospital admission.
Previously, studies have analysed cough acoustics for diagnosing respiratory diseases, this study “specifically investigates the connection between the acoustic characteristics of coughs and the varying levels of pneumonia severity in COVID-19 patients,” said Raimon Jane, a senior co-author of the study and the principal investigator at IBEC.
Five frequency-based parameters of the cough sounds differed significantly with varying levels of disease severity and pneumonia progression, the researchers found by statistically analysing data collected between April 2020 and May 2021 at Hospital del Mar in Barcelona.
These differences may reflect the progressive respiratory system changes in patients with COVID-19, they said.
Jane’s signal processing group at IBEC developed the methodology and algorithms for the acoustic analysis of cough signals collected via smartphones.
Further, cough analysis can serve a dual purpose - early Covid detection and remote monitoring of disease progression, the authors said, adding that further research involving more patients was needed to validate these study findings.
During emergencies and in regions with limited medical infrastructure, the method could prove useful in the prompt identification and isolation of Covid patients, enabling implementation of control measures and medical care, said senior co-author of the study and researcher at the Hospital del Mar, Joaquim Gea.
Despite being Covid-oriented, the study paved the way for applying this model in the context of other respiratory conditions, the researchers said, adding that the method presented a potential predictive, simple, and accessible tool to assess the risk of suffering severe pneumonia.
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