Verywell: Despite mounting evidence, obstructive sleep apnea has yet to be listed by the CDC as an underlying medical condition that puts patients at an increased risk of COVID-related hospitalization and death.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which can occur when the upper airway becomes blocked repeatedly during sleep, reducing or completely stopping airflow, is estimated to affect 22 million Americans. Despite airway interference, it is not currently listed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an underlying medical condition that puts patients at an increased risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19.
“The fact that heart disease and COPD are listed as high-risk medical conditions by the CDC and sleep apnea is not makes no sense given everything we know thus far,” Adam Amdur, Board Chair of the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA), tells Verywell. “The Greek word ‘apnea’ literally means ‘without breath.’” Amdur is also co-investigator of the longitudinal SleepHealth Mobile App Study (SHMAS) and says the pandemic has led to more broken circadian rhythms than his team can put a finger on yet. “We do know 80% of people with sleep apnea are currently untreated and can go 10 to 15 years before even getting an accurate diagnosis,” he says.