Sleep Apnea

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) could improve blood glucose levels in patients with obstructive sleep apnea and poorly-controlled type 2 diabetes, a study reports.

People with type 2 diabetes are more likely to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, a condition which leads to disturbed sleep. CPAP can treat this by using mild air pressure to keep the airways open during sleep, which prevents them from becoming blocked.

In this new research, Autonoma University of Madrid researchers assessed data from 50 patients with both obstructive sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes. All patients had HbA1c levels over 6.5 per cent (47.5 mmol/mol) and ranged in age from 18 to 50 years.

Participants received CPAP or no treatment over six months; their usual type 2 diabetes medication remained unchanged throughout the study. Glucose control, insulin sensitivity, insulin resistance and levels of inflammatory proteins were all monitored by the researchers.

The CPAP group had statistically significant decreases in HbA1c levels and insulin resistance. They also had lowers of two inflammatory molecules, IL-1beta and IL-6, and higher levels of the hormone adiponectin, an important glucose regulator.

Additionally, CPAP patients had lower LDL cholesterol, indicating a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. These findings suggest that “early identification of OSA in patients with type 2 diabetes, and assessment for metabolic abnormalities in those with OSA could reduce the cardiovascular disease risk of patients with these chronic diseases,” according to senior study author Francisco Garcia-Rio, MD, PhD.

The findings were published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.