Study Explores Link Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and COVID-19

Obstructive sleep apnea (“OSA”) is a common sleep-related breathing disorder that causes individuals to repeatedly start and stop breathing while they sleep. There exist different types of sleep apnea, with the most common one being obstructive sleep apnea. Common symptoms of this particular type of sleep apnea include loud snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, episodes of stopped breathing and awakening abruptly, which may be accompanied by choking or gasping.

A new study has found that patients with COVID-19 who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea have longer hospital stays and higher mortality rates when compared to patients with the coronavirus who don’t suffer from this sleep disorder. The study also found rates of obstructive sleep apnea were similar in patients with and without the coronavirus in the emergency department.

The study’s findings were reported in the “Sleep and Breathing” journal.

The objective of the researchers was to compare the prevalence of patients with obstructive sleep apnea who did or did not have the coronavirus infection who had been admitted to the same health center. In addition to this, the researchers also planned to assess the impact of this sleep disorder on clinical outcomes linked to the SARS-CoV-2 infection. The research was carried out at two sites in the Netherlands between March and May of last year.

The researchers enrolled more than 1,800 patients, roughly 700 of whom had been diagnosed with the coronavirus. The remaining number had tested negative for the infection, despite presenting with respiratory symptoms.

The researchers discovered that while the prevalence of the sleep disorder was similar in both groups, the mortality rate in those with the coronavirus was higher if they also suffered from obstructive sleep apnea. This was in comparison to the mortality rate of those without the sleep disorder.

In their report, the researchers note that the heightened risk of death among those with both the sleep disorder and the coronavirus was independent of obstructive lung ailments, diabetes, cardiovascular illnesses, male gender, age and body mass index. The percentage of those who had been admitted to the ICU was also higher in patients with the sleep disorder and the coronavirus, as compared to the other group.

Additionally, the researchers stated in their report that the study’s findings show that obstructive sleep apnea should be incorporated into risk factor analyses for the coronavirus. They then noted that physicians needed to be aware of the relationship between the outcomes of the coronavirus and obstructive sleep apnea, adding that more research needed to be conducted on the mechanism underlying this relationship.

Given that OSA has been found to worsen the way in which COVID-19 affects patients, it is important for those diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea to seek treatment using any of the available options on the market so that any secondary illness they develop is easier to manage.

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