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Obstructive Sleep Apnea Linked To 5 Times Higher Crash Rate In Untreated Truckers

April 1st, 2016   |   Posted in: Dr. Halstrom News, Education Centre, silencer-news, Uncategorized

New obstructive sleep apnea research reveals that truck drivers who don’t treat the sleep condition are five times more likely to be involved in a crash that’s their fault.

Truck Accident

 

New obstructive sleep apnea research reveals that truck drivers who don’t treat the sleep condition are five times more likely to be involved in a crash that’s their fault. (Photo : Pixabay)

Truck drivers with untreated sleep apnea are endangering their own lives as well as the lives of people they share the road with.

New research from the largest study on sleep apnea and crash risk among truck drivers reveals that those who don’t treat their obstructive sleep apnea are five times more likely to be involved in a crash that’s their fault.

“We found that truck drivers with untreated obstructive sleep apnea are at dramatically greater risk of serious, preventable truck crashes, consistent with the greatly increased risk of motor vehicle crashes among automobile drivers with untreated obstructive sleep apnea,” said co-researcher Charles A. Czeisler, chief of the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

The latest study, conducted at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, compared 1,613 truck drivers with obstructive sleep apnea to 1,613 drivers without the sleep condition. Researchers noted that all controls in the study were matched by job experience and tenure with the trucking firm.

Drivers with sleep apnea were prescribed positive airway pressure therapy and had received an auto-adjusting machine containing an internal memory chip that tracked treatment adherence.

Study results revealed truck drivers with obstructive sleep apnea who failed to adhere to positive airway pressure therapy were five times more likely to be involved in a serious, preventable crash compared to drivers who didn’t have the sleep condition.

However, crash rates among drivers who fully or partially adhered to the obstructive sleep apnea treatment did not have higher crash rates than drivers without the sleep ailment.

“The most surprising result of our study is the strength and robustness of the increase in the crash risk for drivers with sleep apnea who fail to adhere to mandated treatment with positive airway pressure therapy,” said lead author Stephen V. Burks, professor of economics and management and principal investigator of the Truckers & Turnover Project at the University of Minnesota.

“It’s estimated that up to 20 percent of all large truck crashes are due to drowsy or fatigued driving, which would account for almost 9,000 fatalities and up to 220,000 serious injuries,” said senior study author Stefanos Kales, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard Chan School and Chief of Occupational Medicine at Cambridge Health Alliance.

“Mandating screening, diagnosis and treatment would reduce large truck and bus accidents, and therefore deaths and injuries among the motoring public,” Kales added.

“This study emphasizes that untreated obstructive sleep apnea is a pervasive threat to transportation safety,” said Nathaniel Watson, the president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “It is critical for transportation companies to implement comprehensive sleep apnea screening and treatment programs to ensure that truck drivers stay awake at the wheel.”

The findings were published in the journal Sleep.

By Christine Hsu | Mar 21, 2016 06:28 PM EDT

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