Sleep Apnea Patients with COVID-19 at Additional Risk

People with COVID-19 and obstructive sleep apnea could be at additional risk of adverse outcomes from COVID-19 according to a new study from the University of Warwick. A systematic review of studies that reported outcomes for COVID-19 patients who were also diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea was performed. Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by complete or partial blockage of the airways during sleep. Various risk factors and comorbidities are associated with sleep apnea including obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.

These conditions are also associated with poor COVID-19 outcomes and hence the researchers wanted to investigate whether being diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea conferred an additional risk on top of those factors. The review included 18 studies. There is evidence to suggest that many patients who presented to the intensive care had obstructive sleep apnea and in diabetic patients, it may confer an increased risk that is independent of other risk factors. In one of the studies where patients had diabetes, who were hospitalized for COVID-19 and had obstructive sleep apnea were at 2.8 times greater risk of dying on the seventh day after hospital admission.

With increasing obesity rates and other related risk factors on the increase sleep apnea is also increasing. Researchers explained that COVID-19 increases oxidative stress and inflammation, which has effects on the bradykinin pathways, all of which are also affected in obstructive sleep apnea patients, and hence this could be one of the reasons that COVID-19 strongly affects such patients.

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