Doctors alerted to type 2 diabetes risk with sleep apnoea

Professor Wilding who is also Chair of Medicine at University Hospital Aintree in Liverpool, is in Sydney this week to participate in a meeting of 20 world experts from the fields of diabetes, obesity, sleep medicine, cardiovascular medicine and epidemiology.

The meeting has been convened by the International Diabetes Federation to develop a consensus statement on type 2 diabetes and sleep apnoea to improve management for people with diabetes and sleep disorders and assist in future research directions. It will be co-chaired by Senior Research Fellow at Imperial College, London, and health policy advisor to the Blair Government, Professor Sir George Alberti, and Director of the International Diabetes Institute in Melbourne and Professor of Diabetes at Monash University in Melbourne, Professor Paul Zimmet.

“The growing link between diabetes and sleep apnoea is a major clinical issue,” Professor Wilding said. “Up to 40% of people with sleep apnoea have diabetes and a further 20% have glucose intolerance.”

A recent study conducted by Professor Wilding and his colleagues that closely matched people for weight and waist circumference showed that when people with diabetes were excluded, 90% of people with sleep apnoea had metabolic syndrome, compared with 40% of those without sleep apnoea.

“Other studies have shown that almost 25% of patients with type 2 diabetes have sleep apnoea,” he said. “However, only a small proportion – perhaps one-fifth – is diagnosed.

“GPs should consider the diagnosis of sleep apnoea in patients with obesity and/or type 2 diabetes and ask about sleep quality and symptoms. The Epworth sleepiness scale is easy to use and patients who score highly should be considered for referral to a respiratory physician.”

Professor Wilding said that while there was a strong association between sleep apnoea and type 2 diabetes, available evidence did not definitively support a causal link.

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