September 21, 2020 — New research shows that people who have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) could be at increased risk of adverse outcomes from COVID-19.
Although obstructive sleep apnea is not currently on the CDC’s list of “underlying conditions,” this is the conclusion drawn by a scientific review, published in September in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews, that analyzed 18 previous studies reporting outcomes for COVID-19 patients that were also diagnosed with OSA. One large study looked at patients with diabetes who were hospitalized for COVID-19 and found that those who were being treated for OSA were more than twice as likely to die by the seventh day in the hospital.
“People with sleep apnea need to be aware that they could be at increased risk and take precautions to reduce their exposure to the coronavirus, such as masking, social distancing, and avoiding crowds of people,” said Dr. Anuj Chandra, medical director of the Advanced Center for Sleep Medicine.
What else does this new research mean for everyday life during the pandemic?
“Even though the pandemic has caused many people to delay treatment for various conditions, anyone who has been diagnosed with OSA should begin receiving treatment, and anyone who suspects they might have OSA — because of extreme snoring or other symptoms — should be tested for sleep apnea,” said Dr. Chandra. “Hospitals need to start screening patients hospitalized with COVID-19 to identify people whose OSA might put them at higher risk for adverse outcomes.”
“And everyone needs to do everything they can to get healthy, restorative sleep,” added Dr. Chandra. “Good sleep is essential to keeping your immune system strong.”