(HealthDay News) — Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) severity predicts the risk of incident diabetes, according to a study published online June 4 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Tetyana Kendzerska, MD, PhD, from the University of Toronto, and colleagues examined whether the risk of incident diabetes correlated with the severity and physiological consequences of OSA in a historical cohort study. The occurrence of diabetes was assessed in all adults without previous diabetes, referred with suspected OSA who underwent a diagnostic sleep study from 1994–2010. Participants were followed through May 2011.

The researchers found that 11.7% of the 8,678 patients developed diabetes over a median follow-up of 67 months, for a cumulative incidence of 9.1% at five years. The risk of developing diabetes was 30% higher for patients with apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) >30 vs. <5, in fully-adjusted models. AHI in rapid eye movement sleep, and time spent with oxygen saturation less than 90% were other OSA-related variables that were linked to incident diabetes. Heart rate, neck circumference, and sleep time were also associated with incident diabetes.

“Among people with OSA, and controlling for multiple confounders, initial OSA severity and its physiologic consequences predicted subsequent risk for incident diabetes,” the authors write.

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