Sleep Apnea and Covid-19

CRAIN'S COMMENTS

Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing stops periodically during sleep. The most common form is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which occurs when throat muscles relax and block the airway. This puts stress on the lungs and diaphragm to force air through the blocked passage.(1)

A study of data from Finland has found that patients with obstructive sleep apnea are five times more likely to have severe cases of Covid than are patients without this condition.(2)

Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Statistically controlling for these other associations, OSA is an independent predictor of severe Covid-19 illness.

The study cannot prove that OSA caused the more severe outcomes. But in a paper posted on medRxiv ahead of peer review, researchers advise doctors evaluating patients with suspected or confirmed coronavirus infection to recognize that the sleep disorder is a risk factor for…

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