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The connection between Sleep Apnea and Diabetes is real and scary. Studies published in the European Respiratory Journal and Journal of Internal Medicine tell us that up to 40% of people with Sleep Apnea will have Diabetes. Other studies show that up to 50% of those with type 2 Diabetes have Sleep Apnea. Essentially, Sleep Apnea causes intermittent shortages of oxygen in the body and fragmentation of sleep, which in turn causes physiologic stress which then wreaks havok on glucose metabolism and the development of insulin resistance.

I myself have recently been diagnosed with elevated fasting blood glucose levels, also known as pre-diabetes. Fortunately, CPAP can help. According to recent studies, after seven weeks of CPAP therapy, blood glucose levels in diabetic patients fall, on average, 20 mg/dl.

If you haven't done so already, and you have Sleep Apnea, you should get your fasting blood glucose levels checked ASAP to determine whether the unfriendly hand of Diabetes has touched you yet. Screening tests are inexpensive and easy to conduct, and should be part of your routine physical examination.

Stay tuned -- the research on Diabetes and Sleep Apnea is in its infancy and much more will be revealed and understood over time.

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Comment by r36464 on February 8, 2009 at 9:30pm
I think one has to understand what can cause obstructive sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes can be one and the same. Poor diet, lack of exercise and obesity. Therefore, we should guardedly agree with any "associations/causes" that minimize personal responsibility for our health. Interestingly enough, losing weight, eating a better diet and exercise may be associated with a lessening of symptoms in type 2 diabetics as well as those with obstructive sleep apnea.
Comment by Daniel on February 8, 2009 at 3:53pm
I can live with "important role." I wasn't making any statements about obesity and insulin resistance. I brought obesity into it to illustrate that causality is very difficult to determine.

When it comes down to it, if we pay attention to the three pillars of good health - Nutrition, Fitness, and Sleep, we will be doing our best to optimize our health in more ways than can be ennumerated.
Comment by Mike on February 8, 2009 at 3:18pm
understood that correlation does not equal causation. that said, in light of the scientific research, i don't think it's a "huge leap" to say that OSA plays an important role in insulin resistance. do you?
Comment by Mike on February 8, 2009 at 3:12pm
Daniel, you suggest that obesity, not Sleep Apnea, might be the true cause of insulin resistance. The new research goes against that (emphasis added is my own): "compared with normal subjects (apnea-hypopnea index < 5 events/h), those with mild, moderate, and severe SDB displayed a 26.7, 36.5 and 43.7% reduction in insulin sensitivity, respectively, independent of age, sex, race, and percent body fat.
Comment by Daniel on February 8, 2009 at 3:07pm
I'm not disagreeing. I am just stating that there's a difference between "associated with" and "causes." Similarly, sleep apnea probably is the cause of many cases of hypertension. However, no doctor will ever state definitively that sleep apnea causes hypertension, because it cannot be proven.
Comment by The SleepGuide Crew on February 8, 2009 at 1:54pm
here's the link to the article I reference above:
Comment by The SleepGuide Crew on February 8, 2009 at 1:47pm
I don't think it's a "huge leap" to report that Sleep Apnea causes the development of insulin resistance. Please refer to the February issue of American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine in which scientists at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found that "sleep-disordered breathing is associated with impairments in insulin sensitivity and glucose effectiveness."
Comment by Henning on February 8, 2009 at 1:03pm
Some of the known co-morbid conditions are also associated with SA, such as obesity.
Comment by Mary Ann McPheeters on February 8, 2009 at 12:52pm
I have diabetes (diagnosed 1998), sleep apnea, and metabolic syndrome. My former husband had to tape record my snoring (1973) before I'd believe him! It was almost 20 years later that I learned about apnea and finally was diagnosed with moderate to severe apnea. I have always wondered "why me?" on these conditions. The old chicken and the egg seemed to really explain - or NOT! Whatever the causes, which I believe are many, to be treated is so essential. To be resting thoroughly at night makes Mary Ann a much nicer girl (!) and the world a much easier place to face.
Comment by Henning on February 8, 2009 at 12:44pm
Daniel, I agree with you that there can be some co-morbid conditions with both diabetes and hypertension. I also think that the correlations between diabetes and SA are unknown. Therefore further studies are needed.

But I disagree with you about hypertension. There are a lot of studies out there who shows the correlations between SA and hypertension.

And today SA is among the known reasons (maybe the biggest reason) for hypertension.

In my own case my elevated BP was normalized within a week after my treatment with CPAP.

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