Science

Sleep apnea can be a risk factor in Covid-19 patients, suggests study

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on November 16, 2020

Sleep apnea can be a risk factor in patients with Covid-19, according to a study conducted by the Turku University Hospital and the University of Turku.

Sleep apnea which can be diagnosed by nocturnal polysomnography causes breaks in breathing (apnea) while a person is asleep.

Researchers analysed register information of Covid-19 patients who were admitted to Turku University Hospital during the first wave of the pandemic in spring 2020 to understand if the disease can be a risk factor.

Out of the 278 people infected with Covid-19 in the first wave of the pandemic Southwest Finland, 28 were admitted to hospital care at Turku University Hospital by May 2, 2020.

The data of these patients were analysed for the study.

"The idea behind the study was the need for real-time information about Covid-19. The research permission was extensive because little was known about the novel coronavirus. We quickly observed that there were quite a few cases of sleep apnea among the patients," said MD Thijs Feuth, a fellow in pulmonary diseases and the first author of the research article.

Based on the register information analysis, 29 per cent of the patients admitted to hospital care had already been diagnosed with sleep apnea.

“Even though the total number of patients in the study was low, the share of sleep apnea patients was high. The extent of sleep apnea among the patients cannot only be explained by the obesity often met in sleep apnea patients, being one of the already known risk factors for severe Covid-19,” according to an official release.

"The finding was strong enough to justify the question of sleep apnea as a risk factor for Covid-19. In principle, a patient may need hospital care when they have a Covid-19 infection if they also have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea anticipates a severe form of Covid-19," estimated Feuth.

Published on November 16, 2020

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