Sleep apnoea is a suspected risk factor for COVID-19, a new study has suggested.
This is the first coronavirus-related study where sleep apnoea as a risk factor reveals itself as the key finding.
Researchers analysed the information of COVID-19 patients who were admitted to Turku University Hospital during the first wave of the pandemic at the beginning of the year.
Southwest Finland managed the first wave of the pandemic with a relatively small number of cases.
For example, patients with a positive test result amounted to 278 individuals. Out of these, 28 were admitted to hospital care at Turku University Hospital by 3 May 2020.
Risks of severe COVID
The research team looked at the register information of these patients. The aim was to work out the risks for the severe form of COVID-19 and any subsequent hospitalisation.
As a result, they found that 29% of the patients admitted to hospital care had already been diagnosed with sleep apnoea.
However, only 3.1% of the population of southwest Finland is getting treatment for sleep apnoea.
Strong enough findings
‘The idea behind the study was the need for real time information about COVID-19, says MD Thijs Feuth, the first author of the research article.
‘The research permission was extensive, because little was known about the novel coronavirus. We quickly observed that there was quite a few cases of sleep apnoea among the patients.
‘The finding was strong enough to justify the question of sleep apnoea 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 apnoea. As a result, sleep apnoea anticipates a severe form of COVID-19.’
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