A new study has outlined the risk of undiagnosed sleep apnea among obese type 2 diabetics.
The researchers found that nearly 87 percent of participants reported symptoms, but were never diagnosed.
"The high prevalence of undiagnosed, and therefore, untreated sleep apnea among obese patients with diabetes constitutes a serious public health problem," said Dr Gary Foster, lead author and director of the Centre for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University.
In the Sleep AHEAD study involving 306 obese patients with type 2 diabetes the researchers found that 86.6 percent of participants had sleep apnea, yet reported never being diagnosed.
More than 30 percent of these had between 16 and 20 episodes per hour where they would stop breathing, and 22 percent had more than 30 episodes per hour, considered severe sleep apnea.
Most of the participants had a larger waist circumference, which researchers found, along with higher BMI, to be significantly associated with sleep apnea.
The researchers say that these findings are alarming.
"Doctors who have obese patients with type 2 diabetes need to be aware of the possibility of sleep apnea, even if no symptoms are present, especially in cases where the patient has a high BMI or waist circumference," said Foster.
The study appears in journal Diabetes Care.