NHLBI IN THE PRESS

Study links severe sleep apnea to higher blood glucose levels in African Americans

African Americans with severe sleep apnea and other adverse sleep patterns are much more likely to have high blood glucose levels —a risk factor for diabetes—than those without these patterns, according to a new study. The findings suggest that better sleep habits may lead to better blood glucose control and prove beneficial for type 2 diabetes prevention and diabetes management in African Americans, who are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes than other groups.

For the study, the researchers evaluated sleep patterns while concurrently measuring blood glucose markers among 789 black men and women who were enrolled in the Jackson Heart Study, the largest study of cardiovascular disease in African-Americans. During the course of the study, they found that those with the severe sleep apnea had 14% higher fasting blood glucose levels compared to those without sleep apnea.

Michael Twery, Ph.D., director of the NHLBI’s National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, added that the study highlights important associations between untreated sleep apnea and poorly-regulated blood sugar. “It also adds to growing evidence that protecting our sleep, like diet and exercise, may help reduce the risk of diabetes and the related risk of cardiovascular disease.”

The study, funded in part by the NHLBI, appeared in the Journal of the American Heart Association.