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Arch Hellen Med, 29(6), November-December 2012, 670-678


Sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes mellitus

A.K. Papazafiropoulou, I. Papageorgiou, D.F. Sfadou, S.I. Pappas
Third Department of Internal Medicine and Diabetes Center, "Agios Panteleimon" General Hospital of Nikaia, Pireus, Greece

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) is a major public health concern, with high morbidity, mortality, and health-care costs. Studies have shown that subjects with T2D may also have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and mortality and it is associated with alterations in glucose metabolism which increase the risk of development of T2D. Studies in humans and animals have shown that the intermittent hypoxia and reduced sleep duration due to sleep fragmentation that characterize OSA have adverse effects on glucose metabolism. Both these conditions can induce a cascade of pathophysiological events, including autonomic activation, alterations in neuroendocrine function and release of potent proinflammatory mediators, such as tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-6. The epidemiological and experimental evidence linking sleep apnea and T2D are reviewed and discussed here.

Key words: Diabetes mellitus, Insulin resistance, Sleep apnea.

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