Non-invasive oxygen saturation (SpO2) is a central vital sign used to shape the management of COVID-19 patients. Yet, there have been no report quantitatively describing SpO2 dynamics and patterns in COVID-19 patients using continuous SpO2 recordings. We performed a retrospective observational analysis of the clinical information and 27 K hours of continuous SpO2 high-resolution (1 Hz) recordings of 367 critical and non-critical COVID-19 patients hospitalised at the Rambam Health Care Campus, Haifa, Israel. An absolute SpO2 threshold of 93% most efficiently discriminated between critical and non-critical patients, regardless of oxygen support. Oximetry-derived digital biomarker (OBMs) computed per 1 h monitoring window showed significant differences between groups, notably the cumulative time below 93% SpO2 (CT93). Patients with CT93 above 60% during the first hour of monitoring, were more likely to require oxygen support. Mechanical ventilation exhibited a strong effect on SpO2 dynamics by significantly reducing the frequency and depth of desaturations. OBMs related to periodicity and hypoxic burden were markedly affected, up to several hours before the initiation of the mechanical ventilation. In summary, OBMs, traditionally used in the field of sleep medicine research, are informative for continuous assessment of disease severity and response to respiratory support of hospitalised COVID-19 patients. In conclusion, OBMs may improve risk stratification and therapy management of critical care patients with respiratory impairment.
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