Recent research has confirmed an indirect connection between OSA, a breathing disorder in sleep and COVID-19.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea OSA is a condition indicated by complete or partial blockage of the airways during sleep. This happens when the muscles there become weaker. It is commonly diagnosed in people who snore or appear to stop breathing or choke up during sleep. Those who are obese in particular are more likely to experience it. If you experience constant choking or seem to stop breathing during sleep, you should speak to your doctor about being referred to a sleep service to be checked for the condition.

COVID-19 and Sleep Apnea

A study published earlier this fall in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine concluded that patients with OSA were eight times more likely to be infected with COVID-19 than others of similar age. The condition also was associated with increased risk of hospitalization and twice the risk of lung failure. Another recent study analyzed data on more than 4,500 patients with COVID-19 and found that those patients with sleep apnea had an increased rate of all-cause mortality.

The systematic review looked at eighteen 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.

Diabetes and Death Risk With Sleep Apnea

Many patients who were exposed to intensive care had obstructive sleep apnoea and in diabetic patients it may possess an increased risk that is independent of other risk factors.

The patients who had diabetes and 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 being admitted.

COVID-19 Risk with Pregnancy

Certain populations are disproportionately affected by both the conditions. Women, having symptoms like snoring and sleepiness, are often under diagnosed and less likely to be referred for evaluation and treatment. And these are with the evidence of health-related risks.

OSA in pregnancy has been associated with poor maternal health outcomes; however, data is required to develop evidence-based, pregnancy-specific guidelines for the screening and treatment of pregnant patients with Sleep Apnea.

Sleep is important for survival, and we should give more attention and thought to it as our overall health and specially the context of COVID-19.