June 14, 2014

Diabetes and Obstructive Sleep Apnea Relationship

As observational studies go, headlines are overstated and causation is not proved. Yet many headlines use the terms linked and tied instead of may increase the risk. The lead researcher, Dr. Tetyana Kendzerska, with the University of Toronto's Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation says, “Patients with severe sleep apnea had a 30 percent higher risk of developing diabetes than those without sleep apnea.”

The full study, a PDF file,  is garnering many headlines, from HealthDay, to Science Daily and several others. I developed severe obstructive sleep apnea which was finally diagnosed in 2001, approximately two years ahead of the diabetes diagnosis. I knew then that I had OSA for several years prior to that and my wife said that I had snored and had apneas for at least two years prior. The sad part was not getting a doctor to believe my wife until I almost wrecked our car when taking my wife to a doctor appointment.

Kendzerska cautioned, however, that this was an observational study, and cannot prove that sleep apnea causes diabetes. "We are not able to investigate causality, just an association," she explained”

Shelby Freedman Harris, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program and the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, said, "I definitely think that this is an important study highlighting the need for more sleep apnea awareness, screening and treatment. "Given the large sample size, it further places emphasis on sleep apnea as a predictor of diabetes, and hopefully with earlier intervention, it can greatly impact the health costs for diabetes management as well as improve the outcomes for many patients," she said.”

The most notable limitation of the study was there was no information about family history of diabetes.

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