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The Stealthy Killers- Sleep Summit to tackle diabetes-snoring link

Twenty of the world’s leading diabetes and sleep medicine experts meet at a summit in Sydney today warning of the deadly combination of type 2 diabetes and sleep disorders.

Convened by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Task Force on Epidemiology and Prevention of Diabetes, the two-day summit will develop recommendations to address increasing evidence that obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) – a condition where snorers stop breathing during sleep, and lesser disturbances of sleep patterns - may lead to type 2 diabetes and worsen the health of those with existing diabetes.

The summit is the first high-level international meeting to focus on the association between diabetes and sleep. Delegates will evaluate the latest research and develop a consensus statement that will contribute to world health policy on diabetes, improve care for people with diabetes and sleep disorders and recommend future research directions.

The conference is co-chaired by Senior Research Investigator in the Division of Medicine at Imperial College, London, and advisor to the Blair Government on Emergency Care and former President of IDF, Professor Sir George Alberti and Director of the International Diabetes Institute and Professor of Diabetes at Monash University, Melbourne, Professor Paul Zimmet AO.

“The world is in the grip of a type 2 diabetes epidemic,” Professor Alberti said. “It is a disease that is commonly associated with obesity and cardiovascular disease. OSA also is often present among people with these conditions and is known to increase the risks that lead to heart attacks.

“The findings of the summit will assist health professionals in their approaches to prevention, diagnosis and treatment of OSA and diabetes, and assist the direction of future research efforts.”

Professor Zimmet said that more than 7% of Australian adults have type 2 diabetes and the number is expected to increase as many of the 16% of adults with prediabetes go on to develop diabetes.

“People with type 2 diabetes should consider they may have, or be at risk of sleep apnoea,” he said. “It is likely that more than half of the people with type 2 diabetes suffer from some form of sleep disordered breathing and up to a third have OSA at a level where treatment would be recommended”.

“Recent research indicates that untreated sleep apnoea may make diabetes medications less effective.

“It is well recognised that treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) to promote breathing during sleep improves outcomes for people with OSA and cardiovascular disease.

“It is hoped these benefits may be extended to diabetes outcomes as emerging evidence shows that CPAP may improve symptoms of diabetes and the efficacy of drug treatment.”

In addition, Professor Zimmet said that sleep disturbances could affect work performance and there were growing workplace safety issues in the transport and engineering industries.

Kate McEvoy | alfa
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