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Sleep Apnea is a Risk Factor for COVID-19

A study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), revealed that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients experience approximately 8-fold greater risk for COVID-19 infection compared to a similar age population receiving care in a large, racially, and the socioeconomically diverse healthcare system.

It was associated with an increased risk of hospitalization and double the chance of developing respiratory failure. (1)

Several studies have also proved that OSA might be a potential risk factor for severe COVID-19. A study published in the Sleep Medicine Reviews has claimed that people suffering from obstructive sleep apnea are at an increased risk of more adverse outcomes from COVID-19 infection.

Also read: Impact of COVID-19 on Heart and Lungs Expert Tips

Pranayam Lung & Heart Institute is one of the best COVID-19 hospitals in Vadodara that will give you a better understanding about the same.


Going through other studies...

Looking at this challenging times, professional researchers from MIT, Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital and Helsinki University Hospital decided to study the link between OSA and COVID-19 via large scale biobank of patients.

In another study, medRxiv aimed at testing the relationship between OSA diagnosis, COVID-19 transmission risk and its aftereffects. Researchers wanted to know whether OSA increases the risk for severe COVID-19 irrespective of other common factors like diabetes, hypertension and age demographics.

After a retrospective case-control study using FinnGen Study Cohort, the National Infectious Diseases Registry and other organisations examined 305 patients who were tested RT-PCR positive for COVID-19 infection. In this, 26 of them had OSA and 16 were severe COVID-19 patients.

The study proved that COVID-19 patients were at 5x more risk of getting hospitalised and developing complications. It was known that OSA is an independent risk factor and can affect your health regardless of your age, sex and underlying ailments.

The study also found that COVID-19 infection was more prevalent in women than men. Let's head back to our main topic.

Several researchers in the UK claimed that up to 85% of OSA disorders go undetected, which means that 1.5 million people are diagnosed with the disease - this can be just the tip of an iceberg. With an increase in obesity and other health-related risk factors, OSA numbers are also on the rise.

The pandemic has adversely affected the world with the diagnosis, management and treatment of patients suffering from sleeping disorders.

You cannot identify how many people are being impacted by the COVID-19 until you have got a clear picture of the total number of OSA patients. Sleep disorders are highly underdiagnosed, and very less is known whether undiagnosed sleep apnea is harmful or not.

The SAR- CoV- 2 virus is known to increase oxidative stress, inflammation, and can also impact the bradykinin pathways, which can have a greater impact on sleep apnea patients. Patients suffering from sleep conditions can witness severe health-related consequences.

Many health experts have claimed that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) has shown beneficial effects on individuals. Also, the British Sleep Society in the UK has released guidelines on the safe use of CPAP during the pandemic.


What’s next?

The need of the hour is to make OSA patients aware of the potential risk and adhere to necessary precautions to reduce their exposure to the virus. Such patients should be compliant to wear a mask, follow proper hand hygiene and consult a doctor as soon as they notice any symptoms. Even doctors should be diagnosing their patients for OSA.

Many of you might be having some general questions related to OSA and COVID-19. Doctors at Pranayam Lung & Heart Institute (PLHI) will help you answer a few commonly asked questions by patients suffering from sleep apnea and COVID-19 treatment. We have been working day in and out to provide you with the latest medical innovations to help you lead a normal life. Helping you stay healthy is our priority!


Frequently Asked Questions About Sleep Apnea and COVID-19:


Q.1) Does the risk of getting COVID-19 increase when you have sleep apnea?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) haven’t listed sleep apnea as a medical condition that can put you to an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. People with severe illness are likely to be at a higher risk, especially the older adults with certain underlying medical conditions like:

  • Cancer

  • Chronic kidney disease

  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

  • Heart conditions like heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, and likewise

  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant

  • Obesity/Severe Obesity (BMI of 40 or higher)

  • Pregnancy

  • Smoking

  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus


Q.2) Should people suffering from COVID-19 using Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)?

As known to everyone, COVID-19 patients need to quarantine themselves as soon as they are tested positive. People with OSA can continue using CPAP only when you’re sleeping alone in the recovery room.

There are a few things you need to remember:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling the CPAP device. You should sanitize your device, mask, tubing, and filters daily.

  • Always clean your CPAP equipment as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • It’s necessary to change your filters and accessories as directed by your guide.

  • Never let any smoke enter your room.

  • Make a point to use distilled water in your humidifier to keep the tub clean.

Disclaimer: It’s crucial to get quick medical attention whenever you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If you suffer from trouble in breathing or persistent pain in the chest, then consult a doctor right away. Till date, no evidence says that using CPAP will cause your coronavirus symptoms to worsen. Reach out to the best COVID-19 hospital in Vadodara.


Q.3) What if I have symptoms of COVID-19 but can’t isolate due to personal reasons?

Many people may have a problem with isolating themselves in a separate room. In such cases, look out for alternative treatments or short-term inventions for sleep apnea to combat coronavirus.


Q.4) How to clean and sanitise CPAP masks?

As said earlier, your CPAP mask, cushion, fame, headgear and hose should be disinfected according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

According to ResMed, consider the following daily cleaning tips:

1. Unplug your CPAP machine from the main switch. Also, disconnect the mask and air tubing from the CPAP machine.

2. Disassemble your mask into 3 parts (headgear, cushion and frame).

3. In a sink or tub, clean your mask cushion and headgear to remove any oils. Gently rub with mild soap and warm, drinking-quality water.

4. Avoid using cleaning products that can be harsh like dish detergents, since they can damage the mask.

5. Rinse again thoroughly with warm, drinking-quality water (i.e. 86°F/30°C).

6. Place the cushion and frame on a flat surface, on top of a towel, to dry. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight.

You should also sanitise all the frequently touched surfaces in your household for 100% safety.


Q.5 Is it safe to use CPAP if there are no symptoms of the virus?

COVID-19 patients tend to spread the virus. Even if you don’t have symptoms, prefer sleeping in a different room for the safety of yourself and your family.

If you’ve more such questions, then stay in touch with your doctor and reach out to them ASAP.

Pranayam Lung & Heart Institute (PLHI) is the only hospital offering bespoke physiotherapy to COVID-19 patients in Vadodara.


Moral of the story is… Prevention is better than cure!

Yes, COVID-19 has upended lives globally; the best thing is to reduce your anxiety and learn to manage your symptoms during the pandemic. Make sure you continue to use CPAP as it boosts your immune system and prevents the virus from going in your lungs. It’s essential to disinfect all high-touch surfaces and keep a clean environment.

Pranayam Lung & Heart Institute is one of the best centers for sleep apnea and coronavirus treatment in Vadodara. We also have a sleep studies lab that offers a silent and soothing ambience to help sound sleep for patients under observation with highly trained sleep studies technicians who monitor the sleeping pattern of the patient. Contact us today!

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