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Almost 90% of Obese Diabetics Don't Know They Have This Condition

A new study published in the June 2009 issue of the journal Diabetes Care found that nearly 9 out of 10 obese type-2 diabetics have undiagnosed sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep.

The condition severely disrupts sleep and if left untreated can result in higher risk of heart attack, stroke, poor metabolism and high blood pressure.

The study was conducted at the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University in Philadelphia.  It included 306 obese participants from the Look AHEAD trial, a long-term study focusing on intensive lifestyle intervention in 5,145 overweight or obese adults with type-2 diabetes.

Sleep patterns were measured among the participants using a polysomnogram, which evaluates breathing patterns and brain activity during sleep.

The participants also answered a series of questions relating to quality of sleep and had their weight, height, waist and neck circumferences measured.

The researchers found that 87% of the participants had sleep apnea but had not been previously diagnosed.

22.6% of those participants had severe sleep apnea (stopped breathing 30 or more times every hour) and 30.5% had moderate sleep apnea (15-30 times/hour).

Severe sleep apnea was also most prevalent for participants with a larger waist circumference and higher BMI.

Based on these findings, the researchers urge doctors to check for sleep apnea among obese diabetic patients even if no obvious symptoms are present.

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