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Sleep Apnea Severity Linked to Glucose Control in Diabetes

Last Updated: January 19, 2010.

In type 2 diabetes patients with obstructive sleep apnea, the severity of the condition is positively correlated with poorer glucose control, according to a study published online Dec. 17 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

TUESDAY, Jan. 19 (HealthDay News) -- In type 2 diabetes patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the severity of the condition is positively correlated with poorer glucose control, according to a study published online Dec. 17 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

To determine the correlation of OSA and HbA1c levels and whether OSA severity is a clinical indicator of glucose control, Renee S. Aronsohn M.D., of the University of Chicago, and colleagues performed polysomnography studies and measured hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels in 60 patients with type 2 diabetes. The researchers also collected demographic information, such as sex, age and weight, and interviewed and surveyed patients on sleep practice, medication use, and exercise.

Of the patients with diabetes, the researchers found that 77 percent had OSA (apnea-hypopnea index of five or more), with higher OSA severity associated with poorer glucose control after controlling for demographics, medications, and lifestyle factors. Compared to diabetes patients without OSA, the mean HbA1c was 1.49 percent higher for patients with mild OSA, 1.93 percent higher for patients with moderate OSA, and 3.69 percent higher for patients with severe OSA. Also, REM sleep apnea-hypopnea index and oxygen desaturation during both total and REM sleep correlated positively with increasing HbA1c levels.

"In patients with type 2 diabetes, increasing severity of OSA is associated with poorer glucose control, independent of adiposity and other confounders, with effect sizes comparable to those of widely used hypoglycemic drugs," the authors write.

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