In December 2019, an outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was identified in Wuhan, China. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared this outbreak a significant threat to international health. COVID-19 is highly infectious and can lead to fatal comorbidities especially acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Thus, fully understanding the characteristics of COVID-19-related ARDS is conducive to early identification and precise treatment. We aimed to describe the characteristics of COVID-19-related ARDS and to elucidate the differences from ARDS caused by other factors. COVID-19 mainly affected the respiratory system with minor damage to other organs. Injury to the alveolar epithelial cells was the main cause of COVID-19-related ARDS, and endothelial cells were less damaged with therefore less exudation. The clinical manifestations were relatively mild in some COVID-19 patients, which was inconsistent with the severity of laboratory and imaging findings. The onset time of COVID-19-related ARDS was 8-12 days, which was inconsistent with ARDS Berlin criteria, which defined a 1-week onset limit. Some of these patients might have a relatively normal lung compliance. The severity was redefined into three stages according to its specificity: mild, mild-moderate, and moderate-severe. HFNO can be safe in COVID-19-related ARDS patients, even in some moderate-severe patients. The more likely cause of death is severe respiratory failure. Thus, the timing of invasive mechanical ventilation is very important. The effects of corticosteroids in COVID-19-related ARDS patients were uncertain. We hope to help improve the prognosis of severe cases and reduce the mortality.
Keywords: Acute respiratory distress syndrome; Berlin criteria; COVID-19; Coronavirus.