The findings, published in Sleep and Breathing, a Nature journal, conducted questionnaires from May to August 2020 with more than 26,000 people across 14 countries and regions like Austria, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, France, Germany, Japan and the U.S.
Researchers used the STOP screening questionnaire – a recognized diagnostic tool for sleep apnea – and asked questions about COVID-19, hospitalization and ICU treatment.
The voluntary and anonymous questionnaire was administered online in several languages for participants 18 years or older. Researchers believe it is the first study of its kind to examine the association between the high risk of obstructive sleep apnea, comorbidities and severe COVID-19.
Researchers determined that “patients with OSA have a significantly increased risk of severe COVID-19, as well as hospitalization and mortality” as the condition is thought to increase the severity of the disease and risk through “proinflammatory pathways.”
The inflammation caused by sleep apnea “may enhance” the evolution of the COVID-19 disease, and researchers observed a “significant” association between a high risk of OSA and increased COVID-19 hospitalization and ICU treatment, the study states.