Sleep disorders tied to worse COVID-19 outcomes, Cleveland Clinic study finds

People with certain sleep disorders face a 31 percent increased risk for hospitalization and mortality from COVID-19, according to research published Nov. 10 in JAMA Network Open.

A team of Cleveland Clinic researchers used the health system's COVID-19 research registry to identify 5,400 patients who had an available sleep study record and had been tested for COVID-19 at Cleveland Clinic. 

After accounting for comorbidities, including obesity and 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. The study did not find patients with such disorders to be more susceptible to contracting an infection, however. 

"As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and the disease remains highly variable from patient to patient, it is critical to improve our ability to predict who will have more severe illness so that we can appropriately allocate resources," said Reena Mehra, MD, study co-author and 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."

Future studies may explore whether early effective treatments such as positive airway pressure or oxygen administration can improve COVID-19 outcomes among patients with sleep disorders, researchers said.


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