PEOPLE who snore could be three times more likely to die of coronavirus, experts have warned.
Those who have been diagnosed with the loud snoring condition, obstructive sleep apnoea, are being urged to take extra precautions.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
It’s when the muscles in the throat relax and narrow during sleep, which can lead to a complete or partial blockage of the airways and cause breathing to start and stop.
The warning comes after researchers from the University of Warwick analysed the outcomes of Covid-19 patients with the condition.
Their findings, published in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews, showed that those with obstructive sleep aponea were at greater risk of dying or needing hospital treatment after catching the virus.
Many of the risk factors associated with sleep apnoea, such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension, are similar to those more likely to die or end up in intensive care with Covid-19.
The systematic review looked at eighteen studies up to June this year – eight of which related to risk of death while 10 were to do with diagnosis and treatment of the sleep apnoea.
In one large study of diabetic patients who were hospitalised for Covid-19, those being treated for obstructive sleep apnoea were at 2.8 times greater risk of dying on the seventh day after hospital admission.
But the experts, led by Dr Michelle Miller, say that more research is needed to understand the link between the sleep condition and Covid.
There are 1.5 million people in the UK currently diagnosed with the condition, but researchers believe up to 85 per cent of cases are going undetected.
With obesity rates and other related risk factors on the increase, the team claim that rates of obstructive sleep apnoea may also be increasing.
Dr Miller, of the Warwick Medical School, 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.
What is sleep aponea?
Sleep apnoea causes breathing to repeatedly stop and re-start when you’re asleep.
There are multiple different kinds of sleep apnoea, but the most common one is called obstructive sleep apnoea.
This is when throat muscles intermittently relax and block the airways when you’re asleep.
Depending on the severity of the case, sometimes sleep apnoea may need to be treated with surgery.
- loud snoring
- abrupt awakenings followed by gasping and choking
- night time sweating
- morning headaches
- high blood pressure
- decreased libido
- dry mouth
- sore throat on waking
If you notice yourself experiencing mood changes such as depression or irritability, or are having difficulty concentrating you might want to go and pay your GP a visit.
“When you have individuals in which these mechanisms are already affected, it wouldn’t be surprising that Covid-19 affects them more strongly.”
She warned that those who have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea need to be aware of the additional risk due to coronavirus.
Dr Miller added that more research is needed to determine whether these individuals should be added to the list of vulnerable people who may need to shield if transmission of the virus increases.
“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,” she said.
“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.”