Diabetes and OSA
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with an increase in a number of life-threatening conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure (or hypertension), stroke and heart failure. If OSA is not diagnosed and treated, the risk can increase. Therefore, these connections should not be taken lightly.
According to the International Diabetes Foundation, it is estimated that almost 40 percent of people with OSA will also have diabetes and on the flip side, 23 percent of diabetics will also have OSA and the percentage can rise to 58 percent if factoring in other sleep disorders.
There have been several studies that found a link between diabetes and OSA. In one study, researchers focused on discovering whether or not there was a relationship between type 2 or adult-onset diabetes and OSA. With consistent disruption of sleep, there is an increased level of insulin resistance. Another study out of Ireland demonstrated that individuals with moderate to severe OSA proved to be predictors of type 2 diabetes. The data showed that OSA resulted in low oxygen levels in the blood, which indicated that cells had less control in glucose regulation.
In 2012, an analysis of six different studies evaluated the association between OSA and the risk of having type 2 diabetes. The combined participants of the studies were 5,953 in number with follow-up periods ranging from 2.7 to 16 years. Of the study subjects, 332 cases of type 2 diabetes were found. The analysis concluded that moderate to severe OSA is associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes. Those subjects without OSA did not show an increased likelihood to develop the disease.
While most diabetes/OSA studies involve middle-aged to elderly adults, one small study attempted to understand the degree of insulin resistance in men under 30 who suffered from sleep apnea. The study consisted of 45 participants: 12 were obese and had OSA, 18 were obese without OSA and 15 were average weight without OSA. The results suggested that an excess of abdominal fat in young men who suffer from OSA may contribute to the risk for type 2 diabetes.
While studies have helped explain the relationship of OSA with diabetes, the true picture is somewhat muddied by the definite correlation between obesity and both of these diseases. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that moderate to severe levels of OSA do in fact increase the risk of having type 2 diabetes. In a 2013 position statement, President of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine Dr. M. Safwan Badr emphatically noted that “Type 2 diabetics are much more likely to have OSA than other people, and as a result, should immediately discuss their risk for sleep apnea with a sleep specialist.”
If you have diabetes, find out whether or not you also have sleep apnea. Contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 or schedule a free consultation when it’s convenient for you.