Objectives: Diabetes mellitus and obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) are two prevalent medical problems. Both are strongly associated with obesity and hypertension. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the association between OSA and diabetes is entirely dependent on obesity in hypertensive men.
Design: A population-based study.
Setting: The municipality of Uppsala, Sweden. Subjects and methods. In 1994, 2668 men aged 40-79 years answered a questionnaire regarding snoring, sleep disturbances and somatic diseases. An age-stratified sample of 116 hypertensive men was selected for a whole-night sleep study. Twenty-five of them had diabetes, defined as reporting regular medical controls for diabetes or having a fasting blood glucose > or =6.1 mmol L(-1).
Results: The prevalence of severe OSA, defined as apnoea-hypopnoea index (AHI) > or =20 h(-1) was significantly higher in diabetic patients than in normoglycaemic subjects (36 vs. 14.5%, P < 0.05). The sample was divided into four groups based on the presence or absence of severe OSA and the presence or absence of central obesity, defined as waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) > or =1.0. In a logistic regression model with the non-OSA, WHR <1.0 as the reference group, the adjusted odds ratio (95% confidence interval) for diabetes was 11.8 (2.0-69.8) in the OSA, WHR > or =1.0 group, whilst it was 3.6 (0.9-14.8) in the non-OSA, WHR > or =1.0 group and 5.7 (0.3-112) in the OSA, WHR <1.0 group. In a linear regression model, after adjustment for WHR, there was a significant relationship between variables of sleep-disordered breathing and fasting insulin, glucose and haemoglobin A1c.
Conclusions: We conclude that, in hypertensive men, although obesity is the main risk factor for diabetes, coexistent severe OSA may add to this risk. Sleep breathing disorders, independent of central obesity, may influence plasma insulin and glycaemia.