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New research links untreated OSA, COVID-19 infections

New research links untreated OSA, COVID-19 infections

SAN DIEGO – People with untreated obstructive sleep apnea were associated with a higher rate of COVID-19 infection than those who received PAP treatment, according to a poster presented by ResMed and Kaiser Permanente during SLEEP 2021, which was held virtually June 10-13. 

The data showed a dose-response association of OSA severity on infection rate: Patients with untreated mild OSA had a COVID-19 infection rate of 2%, while patients with severe untreated OSA had a COVID-19 infection rate of 2.4%. Bother rates were significantly higher than those treated with PAP at 1.14%. 

“These findings demonstrate the critical importance for people with OSA to receive and stay on PAP therapy,” said Carlos Nunez, M.D., ResMed’s chief medical officer. “In addition to COVID-19, OSA can increase a person’s risk for an array of chronic diseases, so it’s necessary for health care providers to educate patients on the importance of proper CPAP use so they can get optimal sleep, which may help keep their immune systems healthy.” 

The data also showed that patients who engaged in PAP therapy with good adherence had even lower COVID-19 infection rates than patients without OSA (1.3% vs. 1.7%, respectively). 

The study, which was conducted by a team of investigators from Kaiser Permanente and led by pulmonologist Dr. Dennis Hwang, collected data on nearly 82,000 patients in the U.S. who were evaluated for sleep disorders at Kaiser Permanente’s southern California sleep clinic between 2015-20. Of those, 1,493 tested positive for COVID-19 infection. The data collected included electronic health records and sleep study findings, as well as data collected remotely on PAP therapy. 


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