HealthDay News — Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) severity predicts the risk of incident diabetes, according to researchers.

“Despite emerging evidence that [OSA] may cause metabolic disturbances independently of other known risk factors, it remains unclear whether OSA is associated with incident diabetes,” wrote Tetyana Kendzerska, MD, PhD, from the University of Toronto, and colleagues. The findings were published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The researchers examined whether the risk of incident diabetes correlated with the severity and physiological consequences of OSA in a historical cohort study.

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They assessed diabetes occurence in 8,678 patients without previous diabetes that were referred with suspected OSA and underwent a diagnostic sleep study from 1994 to 2010. Participants were followed through May 2011.

Nearly 12% of patients developed diabetes over a median follow-up of 67 months, for a cumulative incidence of 9.1% at five years, the researchers found.

The risk of developing diabetes was 30% higher for patients with apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) >30 versus <5, in fully-adjusted models. Other OSA-related variables that were linked to incident diabetes included AHI in rapid eye movement sleep, and time spent with oxygen saturation less than 90%.

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


  1. Kendzerska T et al. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 2014; doi: 10.1164/rccm.201312-2209OC