People who snore could be at a higher risk of dying if they are in hospital with Covid-19, a new study has found. This is because of the correlation between sleep apnoea and snoring.
Researchers from the University of Warwick in the UK carried out a review of 18 previous studies looking at the coronavirus and sleep apnoea.
Scientists found that those who suffer from the condition, which often causes snoring and choking at night when the throat muscles relax, are at a greater risk of suffering from severe cases of Covid-19 and dying from the virus.
Millions of people around the world suffer from sleep apnoea, with many cases going undiagnosed. It is more common in people who suffer from other medical conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, which can also put people at a higher risk of complications from Covid-19.
The study was led by Dr Michelle Miller, who said it wouldn't be surprising if patients with sleep apnoea suffered more intensely from Covid-19.
"It is likely that Covid-19 increases oxidative stress and inflammation and has effects on the bradykinin pathways [which normally help to control blood pressure], all of which are also affected in obstructive sleep apnoea patients," she said.
"When you have individuals in which these mechanisms are already affected, it wouldn't be surprising that Covid-19 affects them more strongly."
Of the studies experts examined, 10 looked at obstructive sleep apnoea and eight examined risk of death from the coronavirus. One of the studies, which looked at 1,300 participants who had both diabetes and sleep apnoea, found the risk of death was 2.8 times greater after seven days in hospital.
The study, published in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews, concluded that the biggest worry was how many people who suffer with sleep apnoea may be unaware of the condition. "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," Miller said.
However, experts admit there needs to be more research into the impact sleep apnoea has on coronavirus patients.
"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," Miller 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."