(Reuters) – Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) appears to put COVID-19 patients at higher risk for critical illness, a new study finds.
Using Finnish national databases, researchers found that while the rates of infection with the new coronavirus were the same for people with and without OSA, among people who did become infected, those with OSA had a five-fold higher risk of hospitalization.
OSA is associated with health problems like obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, but it was linked with a higher risk for severe COVID-19 even after researchers adjusted for these other factors.
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 severe COVID-19.