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Sleep apnea can even be fatal, if left untreated, especially if one has a particular form of sleep apnea syndromes referred to as Pickwickian Syndrome. The combination of obesity, sleepiness, hypoventilation, and red face characterize Pickwickian Syndrome. Doctors who treat those with this syndrome focus on getting the patient to lose excess weight. That's because the extra weight around a sufferer's abdomen restricts the lungs. Click on the above link to learn more from the Merck Manual Home Edition.