with Sleep Apnea
University of South Carolina
Welcome to this month’s
Diabetes Care newsletter. Our topic is
diabetes and sleep apnea linked. Here’s
a wake-up call to the millions of American men and women with type 2 diabetes. Snoring at night or nodding off during the day
may be symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea affects one out of three people with diabetes. Based on evidence linking the two disorders,
health experts are asking doctors to assess their diabetic patients for sleep
apnea symptoms. They are also asking
that sleep apnea patients be screened for metabolic disease.
The recommendation comes
from the International Diabetes Federation Task Force on Epidemiology and
Prevention. Dr. Jonathan Shaw, who heads
the task force, says it’s probably too early to see any concrete evidence of
changes in doctors’ practice. But, he
says, there is increased awareness of the importance of screening people with
diabetes and people with sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea occurs when a
person’s airway becomes blocked during sleep.
It’s usually caused by collapse of soft tissue in the back of the throat
during sleep. Between snores, breathing
stops for a period of ten seconds or longer.
This pattern may repeat itself multiple times over the course of a
night. Not only does it deprive the
person of a good night’s sleep, but it may increase the risk for high blood
pressure and heart disease. Obstructive
sleep apnea affects just two percent of women and four percent of men in the
general population. But it’s much more
prevalent among people with diabetes.
In a recent report in the
journal Endocrine Practice, researchers looked at data from 279 men and
women with type 2 diabetes. Overall, 36
percent had obstructive sleep apnea. Men
with diabetes were most vulnerable. Men
younger than age 45 had a more than one third increased chance of developing
sleep apnea. After age 65, the risk
doubled. For women younger than 45, the
chances of having sleep apnea were slim, between five percent and eight
percent. Females 65 and older, however,
had a one third increased chance of having the sleep disorder.
Dr. Daniel Einhorn says
diagnosing and treating sleep apnea is critical to successfully managing a
patient’s diabetes. He notes that
successful treatment of sleep apnea is the single most effective action you can
do to improve blood sugar. Previous
research has also shown that people with mild to moderate sleep apnea were
twice as likely to develop high blood pressure compared to those without the
sleep disorder. Those with severe sleep
apnea were three times as likely to have high blood pressure. Still, experts say further research into the
diabetes/sleep apnea connection is needed.
Dr. Einhorn is conducting
a follow-up study to find easier, less expensive and more readily available
methods of diagnosing sleep apnea.
Currently, an overnight study in a sleep lab is used to diagnose sleep
apnea, so a large scale screening would be too costly, says Dr. Einhorn.
more information, always consult your doctor.
Thank you for listening. Please
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