From the Journals

Sleep disorders may be undetected precursors for cardiometabolic disease in U.S. Latinos



Sleep disorders may be silent precursors of cardiometabolic disease among U.S. Latinos, said authors of a newly published study.

Dr. Xiaoyu Li, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston

Dr. Xiaoyu Li

Xiaoyu Li, ScD, and Susan Redline, MD, MPH, of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, and coauthors conducted a study of people who self-identified as Latino, who had baseline sleeping disorders, and who developed hypertension and diabetes over time. The study was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The findings suggested that sleep disorders preceded the development of hypertension and diabetes. Examining records from a major multiyear federal project, the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, Dr. Li, Dr. Redline, and coauthors found sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) was associated with a 1.54 higher adjusted odds of incident hypertension (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.18-2.00) and 1.33 higher odds of incident diabetes (95% CI, 1.05-1.67), compared with no SDB. Insomnia was associated with incident hypertension (odds ratio, 1.37; 95% CI, 1.11-1.69), but not diabetes. The association between insomnia and incident hypertension was stronger among men than women, they reported.

“We now need large-scale rigorous trials to evaluate the impact of early treatment of sleep disordered breathing and insomnia on preventing the development of hypertension and diabetes,” Dr. Redline said in an interview. “Clinicians should consider screening their patients at risk for hypertension and diabetes for both sleep-disordered breathing and insomnia.”

Implications for public health strategies

The study results may have implications for health strategies and policies aimed at addressing health differentials among ethnic and economic groups in the United States.

Dr. Chandra L. Jackson, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle, N.C.

Dr. Chandra L. Jackson

Suboptimal sleep health may be an important fundamental but understudied contributor to health disparities, Chandra L. Jackson, PhD, MS, of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle, N.C., said in an interview. Dr. Jackson is the lead author for a report published in August on a 2018 National Institutes of Health workshop regarding the importance of studying sleep health disparities (Sleep 2020 Mar 10. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsaa037). The NIH workshop emphasized how little research has been done on the prevalence, incidence, morbidity, or mortality of sleep deficiencies of racial and ethnic minority populations, even though members of these groups are generally more likely to experience sleep disorders. The report urged “a nuanced integration between health disparity causal pathways and sleep and circadian-related mechanisms” tailored for these groups, with attention paid to sociocultural context.

Dr. Jackson said the study by Dr. Li and colleagues fits nicely with the strategies recommended in this report. She added: “Prospective design is particularly important for establishing temporality or that the SDB and insomnia symptoms occurred before the outcomes of hypertension and diabetes.”

In commenting on the Xi/Redline paper, Krishna M. Sundar, MD, FCCP, medical director of the Sleep-Wake Center at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, commended the study and noted that one of the challenges in sleep research is the long time period over which the effects of disordered breathing become clear, he said.

Dr. Krishna M. Sundar, University of Utah, Salt Lake City

Dr. Krishna M. Sundar

“Things don’t happen immediately. It takes months, years for the effects to develop,” Dr. Sundar said. “To try to piece together the relationships, you need very well planned studies.”


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