Sleep Apnea Therapy Improves BG Levels in Type 2s

A common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) decreased the average glucose level during sleep of type 2s who were newly diagnosed with OSA. After seven weeks of the therapy, known as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), the diabetic patients’ average BG level fell 20 mg/dl.

In OSA, the passage of air to the lungs is obstructed by fatty tissues in the pharynx and neck, which compress the airway and block it. This creates lowered oxygen levels and dangerously high carbon dioxide levels, which stress the heart, and leads to a panic reaction as the sleeper jolts into wakefulness to gasp air. That in turn causes the release of stress hormones which, when combined with the lack of oxygen, tends to increase blood glucose levels.

The condition is common in overweight and obese people, many of whom develop type 2. 

CPAP involves inserting using a device that prevents the collapse of the airway so that oxygen flows freely to the lungs during sleep.

Results were derived from a study published in the December 15, 2008, issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. The study estimates that 15 percent of people who suffer from OSA have type 2 diabetes. Because the condition is associated with increased insulin resistance, an estimated 50 percent of OSA patients have impaired carbohydrate metabolism, a prediabetic condition. 

Twenty type 2 patients participated in the study. All had been recently diagnosed with moderate to severe OSA, and none had ever received CPAP therapy. During the study, none of the participants changed diet or medications.

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