Background and purpose: The objective was to investigate the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on European clinical autonomic practice. Methods: Eighty-four neurology-driven or interdisciplinary autonomic centers in 22 European countries were invited to fill in a web-based survey between September and November 2021. Results: Forty-six centers completed the survey (55%). During the first pandemic year, the number of performed tilt-table tests, autonomic outpatient and inpatient visits decreased respectively by 50%, 45% and 53%, and every third center reported major adverse events due to postponed examinations or visits. The most frequent newly diagnosed or worsened cardiovascular autonomic disorders after COVID-19 infection included postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, orthostatic hypotension and recurrent vasovagal syncope, deemed to be likely related to the infection by ≥50% of the responders. Forty-seven percent of the responders also reported about people with new onset of orthostatic intolerance but negative tilt-table findings, and 16% about people with psychogenic pseudosyncope after COVID-19. Most patients were treated non-pharmacologically and symptomatic recovery at follow-up was observed in ≥45% of cases. By contrast, low frequencies of newly diagnosed cardiovascular autonomic disorders following COVID-19 vaccination were reported, most frequently postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome and recurrent vasovagal syncope, and most of the responders judged a causal association unlikely. Non-pharmacological measures were the preferred treatment choice, with 50%–100% recovery rates at follow-up. Conclusions: Cardiovascular autonomic disorders may develop or worsen following a COVID-19 infection, whilst the association with COVID-19 vaccines remains controversial. Despite the severe pandemic impact on European clinical autonomic practice, a specialized diagnostic work-up was pivotal to identify non-autonomic disorders in people with post-COVID-19 orthostatic complaints.
ASJC Scopus Sachgebiete
- Klinische Neurologie