New Canadian study links diabetes to sleep apnea

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  • June 23, 2014
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Government figures show as many as forty-five percent of normal adults snore at least occasionally and over 25 percent are habitual snorers. Problem snoring is more frequent in males and in overweight people and it usually worsens with age. Snoring may be an indication of obstructed breathing and should not be taken lightly as it has been proved to lead on to a wide range of dangerous health problems, particularly heart attacks and strokes.

There seems to be a growing list of factors that could increase the risk of a person ultimately developing diabetes and recently, sleep apnea was also added to that list. A new study was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine recently and the study findings show that sleep apnoea can increase the likelihood of developing diabetes by as much as 30%.

Pensioner taking blood sample

The team from the University of Toronto analysed data from 8,678 adults with suspected OSA who were without diabetes at the start, and they took part in a diagnostic sleep study between 1994 and 2010 – the most detailed study ever.

All of the participants were tested for OSA and graded according to the severity of their sleep apnea, and placed in groups based on the number of apneas (complete blockage of the upper airway) that they experienced per hour of sleep, and then they were followed for development of diabetes.

During follow-up, 1,017 (11.7%) of the participants were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and after adjusting for known risk factors for the disease, including age, sex, BMI, neck circumference and smoking at baseline, those classed as having severe OSA were shown to have a 30% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those without OSA. Diabetes risk was also 23% higher for patients with mild or moderate OSA.

In a different study, similar figures have recently been found in England where the levels of likely diabetes have tripled in eight years – a situation that the British Medical Journal describes as highly alarming.

“After adjusting for other potential causes, we were able to demonstrate a significant association between OSA severity and the risk of developing diabetes,” the lead researcher said in a statement. “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 OSA and diabetes.”

The lead author also added that the results address some of the limitations of earlier studies on the connection between OSA and diabetes, as their study involved a larger sample size and a longer median follow-up.

It was concluded that the OSA-related predictors of increased diabetes risk that were found in the study allow for early preventative interventions in patients.

In conclusion, the more serious the snoring problem, the more likely the person is to develop diabetes, and probably other serious health problems too.

So if you snore heavily, and gasp for breath, with the consequence of disturbed sleep, you should take immediate steps to correct your breathing pattern, and this will prove highly beneficial to your future health. The solution may be as simple as wearing a simple oral appliance.

Act now and it could save your life. A mouthguard of this type is simple to obtain and wear, and are available easily online without referral by a Doctor, and the choices offer the comfort that you look for at sensible prices. It’s also simple to test for diabetes at home, at your doctor, or at many pharmacies today but if you stop snoring, you’re less likely to develop this growing problem.

By John Redfern