Diabetes, Obesity, Sleep Apnea and Cardiovascular Risk

By Laura Brooks
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It is well known that many people with type 2 diabetes (anywhere from 30-50%) suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), but there is also a potential cardiovascular and other health risks associated with the disorder. Being overweight or obese increases the likelihood of OSA.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your upper airway temporarily collapses while you sleep and you stop breathing (apnea) for as much as ten seconds or more.  When your brain becomes alerted to the lowered oxygen level, the body kicks in breathing again.

The strain of these repeated episodes of apnea, which can occur a hundred times per night, reduces your oxygen levels, increasing blood pressure and daytime fatigue. Insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome are often found in OSA patients, but the relative role played by OSA and obesity is still unclear.

Many physicians are now screening people with type 2 diabetes for sleep apnea. Healthy weight loss, medical treatments for obesity, nighttime pressured air therapy, and even surgery are treatments.

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