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Front Physiol


Case Report: Auricular vagus nerve stimulation possibly alleviates COVID-19 disease on a high-risk patient.


Széles J C, Lucny F, Tyercha A, Kaniusas E, Neumayer C
Front Physiol. 2022; 13:1000194.
PMID: 36714322.


SARS-CoV-2 is a highly contagious virus that was identified as the cause of COVID-19 disease in early 2020. The infection is clinically similar to interstitial pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and often shows cardiovascular damage. Patients with cardiovascular risk factors are more prone to COVID-19 disease and their sequelae. Due to the anti-inflammatory effect and the improvement in pulmonary function, auricular vagus nerve stimulation (aVNS) therapy might alleviate a COVID-19 infection. A high-risk patient with cardiovascular diseases and Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD), type 2 diabetes and peripheral arterial disease IV, according to Rutherford`s classification, became infected with COVID-19. The patient underwent wound surgery because of an infected necrosis with a methicillin-resistant (MRSA) of his small toe and was already on aVNS therapy to relieve his leg pain and improve microcirculation. AVNS was performed with the AuriStim device (Multisana GmbH, Austria), which stimulates vagally innervated regions of the auricle by administering electrical stimulation percutaneous electrodes for 6 weeks. The multimorbid high-risk patient, who was expected to go through a severe course of the COVID-19 disease, showed hardly any symptoms during ongoing aVNS therapy, while other family members, being much younger and healthy suffered from a more serious course with headache, pneumonia and general weakness. The auricular vagus nerve stimulation is a clinically tested and safe procedure and might represent an alternative and effective way of treating COVID-19 disease. Nevertheless, due to several limitations of this case report, randomized controlled studies are needed to evaluate the efficacy of aVNS therapy on COVID-19 disease.