Sleep Apnea May Contribute to Diabetes Complications

By: Brian Powell - February 25, 2014

Last summer, the Department of Veterans Affairs was tasked with a strange goal. The VA Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation asked the VA to find ways to address the epidemic that was claims being filed for those veterans suffering from sleep apnea.

When one looks at the numbers of those claiming to be a victim of sleep apnea, one can understand the cause for alarm. Since the events of September 11, 2001, those veterans receiving compensation due to complications from sleep apnea increase 25-fold, with 13 percent of all veterans receiving compensation claiming benefits due to sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea, or OAS, is the most common form of sleep apnea and is caused whenever the soft tissue surrounding the throat collapses in during sleep, obstructing breathing airways. The most common cause of OAS? Being overweight.

Dr. Lisa Liberatore, an otolaryngologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, has stated that her clinics most oft given advice from those who suffer from sleep apnea is a little bit of exercise and a healthier diet: “Our approach to treating obstructive sleep apnea is always to address any weight issues. We have many examples of when patients lose weight their snoring and apnea reduces significantly. A proactive approach is even better. Telling and showing patients how weight gain — even modest amounts — can and will lead to sleep apnea is a powerful message.”

Due to sleep apnea being caused mainly by being overweight or obese, it should come as no surprise that sleep apnea may have an adverse affect on one’s diabetes condition.

A recent study published in the journal Diabetes Care reports that sleep apnea can worsen one’s longtime control over blood sugar levels in patients suffering from Type 2 diabetes.

Those who suffer from sleep apnea average 4 hours per night of CPAP usage, a breathing machine which forces air into breathing pathways, keeping the throat open and the patient able to breathe. This low amount of CPAP usage means that most patients suffer from apneas, or pauses in breathing, during REM sleep. Researchers at the University of Chicago discovered in their study that proper REM sleep is key to reducing the amount of glycated hemoglobin, a measure of the amount of glucose in one’s body over longer periods of time.

Those sleep apnea patients who wore their CPAP mask for 7 hours or more during the night saw a 1% decrease in levels of glycated hemoglobin, a positive sign for those suffering from diabetes.

In light of all the information presented here, the task for the Department of Veterans Affairs should now be easy: If one wants to reduce the amount of benefits received from patients claiming to suffer from sleep apnea, doctors should recommend a healthier diet and exercise. But then again, that may make too much sense.

Image via ThinkStock

About the Author

Brian PowellBrian Powell is a contract writer for WebProNews. In his day job, he is a teacher and tutor for The Princeton Review. He also serves as an assistant coach to Transylvania University's Speech and Debate team.

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  • matt surenko

    The last comment in story “that may make too much sense” is a ignorant and insulting comment , must have been said by a skinny idiot that has never had to fight a weight problem if it were so easy to lose it and keep off there would be no fat people , to keep it off you have to think about every thing you eat every minute every day always thinking about it , it’s not easy !

    • Mike Franks

      I concur about eating. Overweight people have an addiction. That addiction is food. I was in a OA meeting and someone from AA stated giving up over eating is harder than quiting drinking. His anology was like telling someone with a drinking problem to stop dring 8 oz of wiskey with every meal and yet they are supposed to stop over drinking.
      For alot of us, there isn’t an off button where we feel full. I had my nephews down from Maine. One is very skinny and the other is puggy. I told the puggy one to eat like his brother. You don’t have to clean your plate, you don’t have to have a larger portion than he does. I also told him, I should follow my own advice. So we as a family did exactly that. I lead by example. Now, back in Maine, he has dropped 32 lbs, is a lot fitter and is enjoying life better, but as he tells me, every day is a struggle. He has to think about how he eats and what he eats all the time. This is a self defeating. Since he has to focus on eating all the time, he is consumed with eating more. As one of my brothers once said to me, all I have to do is push away from the table. When I did this as a child, my parents made me eat everything on my plate. My body told me I was full, but my parents wouldn’t listen to me. They told me I had to be part of the “clean plate club” as well as there were staving people in India and somehow by eating all my food I was helping them.
      A CPAP is a lifesavor. I helps prevent my heart from stopping during the night and destroying my heart muscle. This way I will live a more healthy life too!

  • Brian Powell..future fatty

    I hope the author’s metabolism gives out on him sooner than later. From the selfie he has, it’s very likely that I will get my wish…FYI, Brian, talk to your doctor about getting some Rogaine, it must suck to be your age, and already experiencing hair loss.

  • http://cpapcamper.com CPAP Camper

    What a shame. Brian had a great opportunity to actually investigate the condition and write a professional article about Sleep Apnea. Interestingly enough, some recent research into the connection between apnea and constant weight gain suggests that unidentified Sleep Apnea may be a significant factor in the patient’s initial weight gain. As the body puts on more weight, it leads to loud/louder snoring, which in turn makes it easier for the apnea event to be noticed and a diagnosis made.

    It’s ridiculously ignorant, close minded and insensitive of the author to write an article that basically states: Fat Lazy Veterans get whet they deserve… These heroes need to be treated with respect and it should not be considered “strange” to investigate the cause of so many US Veterans needing medical attention.
    I can only assume that webpronews.com hired him to write an article that would attraction attention and readership to their service by delivering a quality article about this topic knowing that would be consumed primarily by sufferers of sleep apnea. Too bad his own personal bias ruined it.
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