Sleep apnea is a type of sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last from at least ten seconds to several minutes, and may occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour.
The researchers measured levels of HbA1c, which correlates with average plasma glucose concentration. This measurement allows researchers to gain an understanding of blood sugar levels over a period of time.
People with diabetes have higher levels of HbA1c and the risk of developing cardiovascular complications is increased as these levels are raised. (The target levels for HbA1c are 4.09 per cent for non-diabetics and up to 6.5 per cent for diabetics).
The results found that levels of glucose concentration were significantly linked with the severity of sleep apnea. The participants in this research were divided into groups based on their level of sleep apnea severity and HbA1c levels rose from 5.24 per cent in the group with lowest severity to 5.50 per cent in the group with the highest severity. The findings highlight the need for clinicians to be aware of the risks of diabetes when treating sleep apnea. The findings have been published online in the European Respiratory Journal.