A Link Between Sleep Apnea and Diabetes Confirmed—Again

It’s almost a given that you’ll see headlines regarding sleep apnea every few days, about how it’s linked with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, weight gain, and sudden death. Unfortunately, it’s gotten to the point where you’re likely to yawns at these findings because you’re so inundated with more interesting medical news and other celebrity media stories. Bare minimum, you might glance at the brief article and think, "that’s interesting," and then go on to the next story. 


Recently, there’s been news about the National Transportation and Safety Board making recommendations about mandatory screening for all commercial airline pilots, commercial truck drivers, ship pilots, and transit train operators, in light of many recent events including pilots that fall asleep and miss their destinations due to undiagnosed sleep apnea. Yawn.


A recent Johns Hopkins study showed that if you have severe sleep apnea, you have a 46% increased risk of dying compared with those that have mild to moderate sleep apnea. Yawn. We already know this information. Sleep apnea patients have a much higher risk of dying from heart attacks or strokes.


A study now shows that your risk of developing diabetes is 2-3 times higher if you have severe sleep apnea and you have daytime sleepiness. We already know that sleep apnea is independently linked to diabetes.


I guarantee that many more studies will be released repeating these same findings over and over again, linking or associating one variable to sleep apnea, without flat out saying that one causes the other. 


I wonder what will it take to significantly elevate sleep apnea awareness in this country? Celebrities with sleep apnea? We already have a few including Rosie and Regis. Politicians with sleep apnea? With the congress being mostly older men, I’m guessing about 1/3 to 1/2 of our leader have at least some degree of sleep apnea.


What can we do, or what has to be done to take sleep apnea awareness, diagnosis and treatment to a new level? Please enter your suggestions below in the comment box. 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “A Link Between Sleep Apnea and Diabetes Confirmed—Again

  1. I agree that OSA awareness in this country is extremely low and that millions of Americans are suffering from many serious health conditions because of undiagnosed OSA. I agree that celebrities, politicians and the news can play a role in increasing awareness, but I believe true change comes from the private sector…

    Organizations that profit from the diagnosis and treatment of OSA need to leverage their marketing resources to increase awareness (TV & print ads) to both doctors and the public. These organizations are CPAP manufacturers, big hopitals, local sleep clinics, local DMEs, or even the federal government (CDC).

    The business model that really works today are the pharamceutical companies. For diseases they treat with drugs, they spend huge amounts of money on TV/print ads…look at Lipitor or Vigra for example. Because of these ads, public awareness of heart disease and ED has sky rocketed. If Respironics Corp. started a national marketing campaign on OSA awareness, their sales of CPAPs would grow fast.

  2. I agree. Anything that can increase awareness is a good thing, but there’s always a potential down side: Our current success rates in long-term treatment (including CPAP, oral appliances and surgery) is still very low, and the field is very fragmented, with no effective communication amongst all the treating professionals. Many people are diagnosed, but a significant number fall through the cracks. First we need to fix the broken system before brining more people into it (like our healthcare system in general).

    What we need is a unified, collaborative, interdisciplinary system that’s not only efficient at diagnosing, but also treating this chronic condition effectively over a long-term period. We also have to be careful to promote awareness in a way that’s ultimately benefiting the patients, and not just the sleep industry’s interests.

    I hope to talk about these issues when I interview on my Expert Interview Series Mr. Ed Grandi, Executive Director of the American Sleep Apnea Association on 11/24.

    Thanks for commenting.