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Obstructive Sleep Apnea Might Increase Diabetes Risk, Study Finds

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Jun 06, 2014 09:15 AM EDT
(Photo : REUTERS/Radu Sigheti)

Researchers find a link between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and diabetes.

The study, conducted by researchers at University of Toronto, was based on data from 8,500 Canadian patients.

People suffering from obstructive sleep apnea have disturbed sleep due to frequent pauses in breathing pattern. The condition causes many health complications and increases risk for stroke, depression and irregular heart beat. The latest study shows that the condition can up diabetes risk.

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"Our study, with a larger sample size and a median follow-up of 67 months was able to address some of the limitations of earlier studies on the connection between OSA and diabetes," said lead author Tetyana Kendzerska, MD, PhD, of the University of Toronto, according to a news release. "We found that among patients with OSA, the initial severity of the disease predicted the subsequent risk for incident diabetes."

The study was based on data from 8,678 adults with suspected OSA. None of the participants had diabetes at the start of the study and all had undergone diagnostic sleep study between 1994 and 2010.

Researchers then looked at the participants' medical data to examine the occurrence of diabetes.

After adjusting for age, gender and other health issues, researchers found that people with severe sleep apnea had 30 percent higher risk and those with moderate levels had a 23 percent increased risk of developing diabetes when compared to people with low levels of sleep apnea.

Some of the limitation of the research were that researchers had no data about family history of diabetes or race of the participants.

"After adjusting for other potential causes, we were able to demonstrate a significant association between OSA severity and the risk of developing diabetes," said Dr. Kendzerska. "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 study is published in the journal American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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