People who have a loud snoring condition in conjunction with other underlying health concerns could be almost three times as likely to die if they contract Covid-19 and end up in hospital.
And 85 per cent of people with the condition don’t even know they have it.
Researchers from the University of Warwick found that people with obstructive sleep apnoea – a condition characterised by complete or partial blockage of the airways during sleep – could be up to three times more likely to die from coronavirus.
In the study, the team reviewed 18 studies looking into a possible link between obstructive sleep apnoea and coronavirus, reports The Mirror.
Their analysis revealed that many coronavirus patients who presented to intensive care had obstructive sleep apnoea, and in diabetic patients, it was linked to an increased risk of death.
In fact, in one study in coronavirus patients with diabetes, those with obstructive sleep apnoea were 2.8 times more likely to die on the seventh day after hospital admission.
The researchers believe that up to 85% of obstructive sleep apnoea cases are undetected.
Dr Michelle Miller, who led the study, said: “Without a clear picture of how many people have obstructive sleep apnoea it is difficult to determine exactly how many people with the condition may have experienced worse outcomes due to COVID-19.
“This condition is greatly underdiagnosed, and we don’t know whether undiagnosed sleep apnoea confers an even greater risk or not.
“It is likely that COVID-19 increases oxidative stress and inflammation and has effects on the bradykinin pathways, all of which are also affected in obstructive sleep apnoea patients.
“When you have individuals in which these mechanisms are already affected, it wouldn’t be surprising that COVID-19 affects them more strongly.”
The researchers hope the findings will encourage people with obstructive sleep apnoea to take precautions to reduce their risk of coronavirus.
Dr Miller added: “This is a group of patients that should be more aware that obstructive sleep apnoea could be an additional risk if they get COVID-19. Make sure you are compliant with your treatment and take as many precautions as you can to reduce your risk, such as wearing a mask, social distancing and getting tested as soon as you notice any symptoms. Now more than ever is the time to follow your treatment plan as diligently as possible.
“Hospitals and doctors should also be recording whether their patients have obstructive sleep apnoea as a potential risk factor, and it should be included in studies and outcomes data for COVID-19. We need more data to determine whether this is something we should be more concerned about.”