Sleep disorders could cause severe COVID-19 induced comorbidities; Study

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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People with certain sleep disorders face a 31 percent increased risk for hospitalization and mortality from COVID-19, according to recent research.

A team of Cleveland Clinic researchers used the health system’s COVID-19 research registry, which includes data from nearly 360,000 patients tested for coronavirus at Cleveland Clinic, of which 5,400 had an available sleep record. The findings of the study were published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

After accounting for comorbidities, including obesity, cancer, heart and lung disease, findings showed that patients with sleep-disordered breathing and sleep-related hypoxia have more severe outcomes from COVID-19, including a 31 percent higher rate of hospitalization and mortality. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and the disease remains highly variable, it is critical to improve the ability to predict who will have a more severe illness to allocate appropriate resources, said Dr. Reena Mehra, director of Sleep Disorder Research at Cleveland Clinic.

“This study improved our understanding of the association between sleep disorders and the risk for adverse COVID-19 outcomes. It suggests biomarkers of inflammation may mediate this relationship,” Dr. Mehra said.

The findings set the stage for additional studies to identify whether early effective treatments such as PAP (positive airway pressure) or oxygen administration can improve COVID-19 outcomes.

“Our findings have significant implications as decreased hospitalizations and mortality could reduce the strain on healthcare systems. If indeed sleep-related hypoxia translates to worse COVID-19 outcomes, risk stratification strategies should be implemented to prioritize the early allocation of COVID-19 therapy to this subgroup of patients,” said the first author of the study Dr. Cinthya Pena Orbea, MD, of Cleveland Clinic’s Sleep Disorders Center.

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