New Study Suggests Untreated Sleep Apnea Can Lead to Diabetes and Hypertension in Hispanics
Hispanics in the U.S. at risk for cardiovascular disease also have a high prevalence of sleep apnea, which is often undiagnosed, suggesting the untreated sleep disorder can lead to diabetes and hypertension in this population, according to an analysis of the results of the landmark Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (SOL).
Alberto R. Ramos, M.D., M.S.P.H., assistant professor of clinical neurology and co-director of the Sleep Medicine Program at Anne Bates Leach Eye Hospital and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, co-authored the report that examined the prevalence of sleep apnea and its relation to high blood pressure and diabetes among 14,440 middle-aged Hispanic men and women from 2008 to 2012. Participants for SOL were recruited from four field centers across the country in Miami, San Diego, Chicago and the Bronx.
The study, “Sleep Disordered Breathing in Hispanic/Latino Individuals of Diverse Backgrounds: The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos,” was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Sleep apnea is a common disorder that is known to increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other vascular diseases and is closely related to obesity and being overweight.
The researchers found that 33 percent of men and 19 percent of women had sleep apnea, with only 1.3 percent of those reporting they had been diagnosed by a physician at the time of the study.
Researchers also found those with moderate to severe sleep apnea had a 44 percent higher chance of hypertension, a 50 percent higher chance of impaired glucose tolerance and a 90 percent higher chance of diabetes. In addition, the odds of sleep apnea were higher in overweight and obese individuals.
Obesity alone is linked to these cardiovascular risk factors, but the study found significant associations between sleep apnea and diabetes and hypertension even after adjusting for body mass index and waist circumference.
“This study is telling us that sleep apnea is a very common problem in the Hispanic population, but it is under-diagnosed and under treated,” said Ramos, who is in the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s Mentored Translational Research Scholars Program. “By detecting and treating it, we can potentially modify these other vascular risk factors and improve their overall cardiovascular health.”