Sleep Apnea and Kidney function

April 27th, 2018 by Vishal Saini

Effect of Sleep Apnea on Kidney function in patients with Type 2 Diabetes

Sleep apnea is a dysfunctional breathing which involves temporary collapsing of the upper airway during sleep. Sleep apnea can impact health of a diabetic patient in many ways. It can cause hyperglycemia, which is increase in blood sugar levels further worsening the condition. Sleep apnea can also worsen the kidney function by increasing the albumin excretion and it is seen in more exacerbated form in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Albumin and its correlation with kidney function

Albumin is a protein in the body which is excreted via kidney. The amount of albumin excretion is used to determine the kidney function. Albuminuria is a marker for kidney damage in early stages of chronic kidney disease. High levels of albumin in urine are considered a risk factor for progression of kidney disease and increased mortality. If not treated, it can lead to end stage renal disease. Many research studies have shown a significant relationship between sleep apnea and albuminuria in patients with chronic kidney disease.

Relationship of sleep apnea with albuminuria in Type2 diabetes patients

A clinical research study was done on 273 patients with type 2 diabetes. The results of the study showed a significant relationship between sleep disordered breathing and albuminuria. Furthermore, the risk of albuminuria increases two to three fold with moderate sleep apnea (Respiratory Event Index (REI)= 15-30). With severe sleep apnea or REI >30, the risk of developing albuminuria increases six to eight fold. The study strongly favors the fact that sleep apnea is an important risk factor for progression to kidney disease in patients with type 2 diabetes.

How can Sleep apnea cause Albuminuria

Sleep apnea is known to cause hyperglycemia or increase in blood sugar levels. Along with this, sleep apnea can also cause hypertension or high blood pressure. Both hyperglycemia and hypertension are known risk factors for causing albuminuria. Moreover, sleep apnea causes intermittent hypoxemia (low oxygen supply) which can lead to oxidative stress, and sympathetic nervous system overactivity. Which further lead to stimulation of the kidneys to excrete high amounts of albumin.


Sleep apnea can lead to poor blood sugar levels and high blood pressure, which in turn can lead to albuminuria in patients with type 2 diabetes. Treatment of sleep apnea by using a CPAP device can limit the progression of kidney disease. If you are a diabetic patient with any of the symptoms of sleep disorder, don’t hesitate to discuss it with our supersomnia physicians who can guide you towards a better and healthy living.