by Martha Kerr

Last Updated: 2008-06-09 11:19:46 -0400 (Reuters Health)

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) released a consensus statement on Saturday that recommends that all patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) be screened for metabolic disorders, including type 2 diabetes, and that OSA be aggressively managed to improve glycemic control.

The IDF consensus statement was released here during the ongoing 68th Annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association.

While obesity is a risk factor for both OSA and type 2 diabetes, "the link between the two is independent of obesity," Dr. Paul Zimmet of the International Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, told Reuters Health in an interview just prior to his presentation. Dr. Zimmet is a co-chair of the IDF Task Force on Epidemiology and Prevention.

"We know that treating sleep apnea improves diabetic control, but we don’t know if the opposite is true, that good control of type 2 diabetes alleviates sleep apnea," Dr. Zimmet commented.

He said about 40% of patients with OSA have diabetes and conversely, about 40% of diabetics have sleep apnea. Because of the overlap of the two disorders, the IDF Task Force members are urging physicians to screen their patients with one of the disorders for the other.

Screening patients with OSA for type 2 diabetes and related metabolic disorders is simple, inexpensive and could have enormous economic implications, the IDF Task Force members said.

The IDF is issuing an "urgent call to action" to physicians and researchers to put more focus, resources and research into the link between the two diseases.

"Fewer than 10% of physicians in Europe and Australia are aware of the link," Dr. Zimmet said.

"OSA is a treatable cause of hypertension and heart failure (and) it may also be a treatable cause of type 2 diabetes." At the least, treating it properly would improve control of type 2 diabetes, he asserted.

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