Assessing Whether the Association Between Sleep Apnea and Diabetes is Bidirectional

Can J Diabetes. 2017 Apr;41(2):197-203. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjd.2016.09.009. Epub 2016 Dec 15.


Objectives: To determine whether there is a bidirectional association between sleep apnea and diabetes mellitus.

Methods: We conducted longitudinal analyses of a population-based cohort over 12 years using Taiwan's national universal health insurance database. In analysis I, we included 102 355 individuals without type 2 diabetes mellitus at baseline and estimated the hazard ratio of incident diagnosis of type 2 diabetes mellitus for patients with and those without sleep apnea. In analysis II, we included 258 053 participants without sleep apnea at baseline and calculated the hazard ratio of developing sleep apnea for patients with and those without type 2 diabetes.

Results: In analysis I, the incidence rates of type 2 diabetes were 17.7 and 11.1 per 1000 person-years for patients with and those without sleep apnea, respectively. Patients with sleep apnea had an increased risk for diabetes (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] = 1.33; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.22 to 1.46). In analysis II, the risk for sleep apnea with diabetes was not statistically significant (aHR = 1.06; 95% CI, 0.98 to 1.16). These associations in both analyses did not substantively change after accounting for various latent periods.

Conclusions: Baseline sleep apnea is associated with incident type 2 diabetes; however, the presence of type 2 diabetes cannot predict the development of sleep apnea.

Keywords: apnée du sommeil; association bidirectionnelle; bidirectional association; diabète sucré de type 2; longitudinal study; sleep apnea; type 2 diabetes mellitus; étude longitudinale.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / complications*