Sleep apnea treatment can improve outcomes in people with pre-diabetes in as little as two weeks, according to a study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
For the study, two groups of individuals with pre-diabetes were monitored for two weeks—one group received continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, while the other group received a placebo.
The group that received CPAP treatment experienced a significant reduction in glucose response and an improvement in insulin sensitivity over the two-week period. Interestingly, researchers also found that the CPAP users had lower blood pressure and norepinephrine levels.
Sleep disorders have been linked with risk for a host of life threatening issues, including heart disease, cognitive decline, and automobile accidents. A study earlier this year found that inadequate sleep was linked with insulin resistance and increased cortisol levels, even in young, healthy individuals.
It is clear that there is a connection between sleep disordered breathing and diabetes risk, and, while CPAP therapy appears to improve outcomes, there is still a massive need for a solution for individuals who are CPAP-intolerant.
In this study, the researchers ensured CPAP compliance by monitoring the study subjects constantly. In reality, however, we know that CPAP compliance is far from ideal, even in patients with the worst symptoms. CPAP is one of the most effective treatments for obstructive sleep apnea, but it cannot effect the improvement in health and wellbeing we know are possible without consistent compliance.
In the past, oral appliance therapy has proved equally as effective at reducing blood pressure and improving cardiovascular disease markers as CPAP therapy. Future research will hopefully find that oral appliances can cause an equally significant improvement in glucose response and insulin sensitivity and provide a solution for the large group of individuals who are not candidates for CPAP.