Sleepers With Mild Sleep Apnea Twice as Likely to Crash Their Cars

In a recent article in Sleep Review it appears as though sleep apnea patients are more likely to have severe car crashes, oftentimes involving injury.

The study compared 800 people with sleep apnea with 800 people that had normal nighttime breathing. Amazingly, patients with even with mild sleep apnea were twice as likely to have a car crash, and three to five times as likely to have a serious crash involving personal injury.

The sleep apnea group had a total of 250 crashes over 3 years, compared with 123 crashes in the group without sleep apnea.

Another interesting fact was that men and women who had apnea were having crashes at the same rate, while in the general population we find that men usually have more car crashes than women. Thus it can be inferred that sleep apnea appears to be an equal opportunity disorder, at least in terms of serious car crashes. 

This study was one of the first to look at real sleep studies and motor vehicle accidents, and clearly shows the need to be aware of undiagnosed apnea. The evidence continues to mount that sleep apnea, when undiagnosed, can be fatal.

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