If You Have This Common Condition, You're More Likely to Get Severe COVID

This puts nearly 8 percent of Americans at risk for a more serious case of the virus.

It's long been known that some people are at higher risk of having their coronavirus case take a turn for the worse. While some are hospitalized and face fatal consequences, others with COVID may not even know that they have it. And while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified many comorbidities that could put you at risk for the former, recent research has identified a new common condition people need to be wary of when it comes to the coronavirus. According to a new study, if you have sleep apnea, you may be more likely to get severe COVID. Read on to find out how this condition affects COVID cases, and for more on potential coronavirus complications, If You Have This Blood Type, You're at a High Risk of Severe COVID.

A study published Jan. 12 in BMJ Open Respiratory Research found that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is an independent risk factor for severe COVID. OSA is one of the most common forms of sleep apnea, affecting nearly 25 million Americans, according to the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research.

The study's researchers observed data from 445 COVID patients. Out of these patients, 38 had been previously diagnosed with OSA. In the end, 91 coronavirus patients in this study were diagnosed with severe COVID, which meant they had to be hospitalized. Out of the hospitalized patients, nearly 21 percent had OSA.

The findings suggest that patients with OSA have nearly 3 times higher risk for COVID hospitalization, even without other severe coronavirus risk factors that are often associated with OSA, including higher body mass index (BMI), diabetes, older age, and male gender. However, researchers also concluded that OSA doesn't appear to increase the risk of contracting COVID compared to those without this sleep disorder—just the risk of developing a severe case.

OSA interrupts a person's breathing during their sleep. It causes people to enter repetitive stages of reduced breathing and momentary periods of no breathing at all, which prevents someone from taking in enough oxygen. According to the researchers, this can result in "severe oxygen desaturation, sleep disruption and increase in systolic and diastolic blood pressure," all of which can worsen the symptoms of COVID, leading to a severe form of the virus.

"We believe that our finding may help in identifying high-risk individuals for severe forms of COVID-19 infection, and therefore screening for previous indications of OSA could be beneficial among individuals testing positive for the virus," the researchers noted.

According to the study, OSA should be recognized as one of the comorbidity risk factors for developing a serious form of the coronavirus. For more factors that may put you at a higher risk of severe COVID, keep reading, and for ways to keep yourself healthy, Dr. Fauci Says You Need One of These at Home to Avoid COVID.

Blood type

A doctor examines a vial of a blood sample in her hand.

In December, researchers from the GenOMICC Consortium found that having type A blood puts you at a higher risk of developing severe COVID. This connection was also suggested in an online study from June, which found that patients who had type A blood had a 50 percent higher risk of needing oxygen or a ventilator. And if you're worried about getting sick, This Is the "Strongest, Most Consistent" Sign You Have COVID, Study Says.

Down syndrome

Two doctors wearing protective gear intubate a COVID patient in the ICU.

This medical condition was only recently recognized as a risk factor for severe COVID. In an update posted on Dec. 23, the CDC announced that it had amended its "living document" of conditions and disorders that lead to severe COVID to include Down syndrome. This change came after an Oct. 2020 study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that people with Down syndrome were 10 times more likely to die of severe COVID than patients without the disorder. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Vitamin intake


A recent December study from Denmark, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, compared the vitamin K levels of 138 patients hospitalized with COVID with those of 140 healthy people. Results showed that those hospitalized with COVID had vitamin K levels that were about half that of the healthy control population, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. In addition, 43 study subjects who died of the coronavirus had vitamin K levels that were even lower than that. And for more on the supplements you should be taking, discover The 2 Vitamins Dr. Fauci Says You Should Take to Boost Immunity.

Heart disease

Health visitor using digital tablet and talking to a senior man during home visit

The CDC warns that having any type of preexisting heart condition puts you at a higher risk of severe COVID. But they specifically point out heart failure, coronary artery disease, and cardiomyopathies as some of the most concerning in relation to the coronavirus. And for more guidance on staying safe, The CDC Warns Against Using These 6 Face Masks.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
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