Sleep apnea patients at greater risk of developing COVID-19
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People who have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea could be at increased risk of adverse outcomes from COVID-19 according to a new study from the University of Warwick.

The conclusion is drawn from a systematic review of studies that reported outcomes for COVID-19 patients that were also diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea. Published in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews, the review highlights the need to further investigate the impact of the virus on those with the sleep condition and to better identify those currently undiagnosed with it.

Obstructive sleep apnoea is a condition characterised by complete or partial blockage of the airways during sleep when the muscles there become weaker. It is commonly diagnosed in people who snore or appear to stop breathing or make choking sounds during sleep, and those who are obese in particular are more likely to experience it.

Many of the risk factors and comorbidities associated with sleep apnoea, such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension, are similar to those associated with poor COVID-19 outcomes. However, the researchers wanted to investigate whether being diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea conferred an additional risk on top of those factors.

The systematic review looked at 18 studies up to June 2020 with regards to obstructive sleep apnoea and COVID-19, of these eight were mainly related to the risk of death from COVID-19 and ten were related to diagnosis, treatment and management of sleep apnoea. Although few studies of obstructive sleep apnoea in COVID-19 had been performed at the time, there is evidence to suggest that many patients who presented to intensive care had obstructive sleep apnoea and in diabetic patients it may confer an increased risk that is independent of other risk factors.

In one large study in patients that had diabetes, who were hospitalised for COVID-19, those being treated for obstructive sleep apnoea were at 2.8 times greater risk of dying on the seventh day after hospital admission.

The review highlights that the pandemic has also had worldwide effects on the ongoing diagnosis, management and treatment of patients with this and other sleep conditions. Moving forward it may be necessary to explore new diagnosis and treatment pathways for these individuals.

Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1087079220301258?via=ihub
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