Sleep apnea can cause diabetes, new study says
Sleep apnea can cause diabetes, new study says

Sleep apnea can cause diabetes, new study says

People with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) could be at greater risk of developing diabetes, according to the findings of a large-scale study.

Carried out by the University of Toronto, the research involved more than 8,500 Canadian patients. It demonstrated a significant association between OSA severity and the risk of developing diabetes, even after adjusting for other potential causes.

The severity of the participants’ sleep apnea was assessed with the apnea-hypopnea index, which indicates severity based on the number of apneas (complete cessation of airflow) and hypopneas (partial cessation of airflow) per hour of sleep. Patients were classified as not having OSA (AHI < 5), or having mild (AHI 5-14.9), moderate (AHI 15-30) or severe (AHI>30) OSA.

During the follow-up, 11.7 percent of the patients developed diabetes. In analyses adjusting for known risk factors for diabetes, including age, sex, body mass index, neck circumference, smoking, income status and comorbidities at baseline, patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea had a 30 percent higher risk of developing diabetes than those who do not suffer from the disorder.

“After adjusting for other potential causes, we were able to demonstrate a significant association between [obstructive sleep apnea] severity and the risk of developing diabetes,” Dr. Kendzerska said. “Our findings that prolonged oxygen desaturation, shorter sleep time and higher heart rate were associated with diabetes are consistent with the pathophysiological mechanisms thought to underlie the relationship between [obstructive sleep apnea] and diabetes.”


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