Researchers at the University of Turku and Turku University Hospital in Finland are suggesting that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may be a risk factor for severe COVID-19. According to an article in News Medical Life Sciences, the team found that a disproportionate number of patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 had pre-existing OSA (diagnosed a median of 2.5 years beforehand).
“Other features of OSA that the team suggest may explain the increased risk of severe COVID-19 are intermittent hypoxia, which could exacerbate the hypoxia caused by COVID-19, and chronic inflammation, which could contribute to the ‘cytokine storm syndrome’ that can be fatal in cases of COVID-19,” writes Sally Robertson.
Study authors say the disproportionate prevalence of pre-existing OSA among the patients “may have important implications for individual risk assessment, as well as in helping to shed light on the pathogenesis of severe COVID-19…The question of whether OSA is an independent risk factor should be addressed in larger cohorts.”
The study echoes another article in News-Medical.net that explored sleep’s link to the immune system, including how proper slumber can help prevent and overcome infections. Viewed within the prism of COVID-19, OSA becomes even more problematic.
“The need for solutions go up during a time of crisis,” says Shad Morris, D.D.S., inventor of the slumberBUMP positional sleep therapy device. “The first question to answer is whether sleep apnea is definitely present, because poor sleep may simply be snoring. Getting rid of snoring via positional therapy is a welcome respite for bed partners to be sure, but sleep apnea is a health matter that should not be ignored.”