People with sleep apnea could be at additional risk of developing complications from COVID-19, British researchers warn.
Scientists affiliated with the University of Warwick, UK, looked at 18 previous studies showing the link between COVID-19 and obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, the most common type of sleep apnea.
In one of these studies, involving patients with diabetes and hospitalized with COVID-19, those who also had obstructive sleep apnea disorders were 2.8 times more likely to die in the following week. . According to other data, many patients who were admitted to intensive care suffered from sleep apnea.
As COVID-19 is an emerging disease, the available knowledge is preliminary and the authors have not reached a definitive conclusion regarding the additional risk that sleep apnea would pose. In addition, many people have it without knowing it, which further complicates research, they point out.
These first results should encourage people living with this medical condition to take additional precautions to protect themselves against COVID-19 and, more than ever, they should strictly follow their treatments, they advise.
Their main recommendation is that more research is needed to better understand the links between sleep apnea and COVID-19.
In a press release from their university, scientists recall that sleep apnea is associated with other health problems such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension, which are vulnerability factors for COVID-19 .
Furthermore, according to them, we cannot exclude that it increases, in itself, the chances of having complications from COVID-19.
They explain that it is “likely” that COVID-19 “increases oxidative stress and inflammation and has effects on the pathways of bradykinin,” a hormone that influences metabolism and blood pressure. But these mechanisms are also affected by obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, they say.
“When you have individuals in which these mechanisms are already affected, it wouldn’t be surprising if COVID-19 affects them more strongly,” said Dr. Michelle Miller, lead author of the study.