New research has revealed that people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea but not diabetes have the same heart risks as those with both diabetes and the breathing disorder.
For the study, a team of Romanian researchers examined the arterial function of 20 people without diabetes who had moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea, 20 people with diabetes and OSA, and 20 healthy individuals.
After analysing how well their arteries were able to function through a series of tests, they found that all participants with OSA had stiffer arteries than those without the condition, regardless of whether or not they were diabetic . In addition, arterial stiffness was similar in both the non-diabetic OSA and diabetic OSA groups.
Stiff arteries occur due to aging, diabetes or the build-up of fatty deposits inside the arteries (atherosclerosis), and are a major risk factor for coronary heart disease.
This study “suggests that OSA [obstructive sleep apnea] is associated with a high risk for cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Raluca Mincu, one of the authors of the study, said in a statement.
The researchers said the findings are still preliminary at this stage as they have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition that affects breathing during sleep. It is estimated to affect as many as one in ten middle-aged men and is linked OSA with higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

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