Untreated sleep apnea is tied to a whole host of other health problems like an increased risk for heart disease, hypertension, stroke and diabetes. The risk goes both ways for sleep apnea and diabetes – type 2 diabetes can increase the likelihood of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), but having OSA can also increase the chance of developing diabetes. Individuals with severe OSA are at a 30% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A new study reinforced the importance of treating OSA with CPAP therapy because it can reduce the risk individuals with prediabetes face of eventually developing diabetes.
This recent study was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, and researchers investigated the effect of using CPAP therapy for eight hours a night on the development of diabetes. Thirty-nine study participants that were middle-aged, overweight or obese with prediabetes and sleep apnea were assigned to two weeks of CPAP treatment or given a placebo.
Blood sugar control improved for participants using CPAP, they experienced lower blood pressure, and had 27% lower levels of the stress hormone norepinephrine than the placebo group. In addition to regular use of CPAP machines, OSA patients can also reduce their risk of developing diabetes by practicing healthy eating habits and through weight loss.