Patients with Untreated Sleep Apnea Have Higher Risk of Car Accidents

There's a good reason to make sure your snoring isn't caused by sleep apnea.  Studies have shown that people with sleep apnea were reported as more likely to fall asleep while driving than people without sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a medical condition where a person stops breathing for periods of time throughout the night.  These periods of oxygen deprivation disrupt sleep and lead to daytime fatigue, memory loss, weight gain, high blood pressure, heart failure, increased cancer and diabetes risk, and even sudden death.

Researches at the University Hospital in Leeds performed a research test to see the affects of sleep apnea on driving ability. The test pitted the driving skills of 133 people with untreated sleep apnea against 89 people without it. Each participant underwent a 56 mile driving simulation, where researches measured completion time, time spent driving in the designated lane, and car crashes.

The researchers observed that the patients with untreated sleep apnea were more likely to fail the driving test. Twice as many people with sleep apnea failed the test than people without the condition. "13 patients were unable to complete the test because they fell asleep, veered completely off the motorway and 5 patients because they spent more than 5% of the study outside the lane that they had been instructed to remain in," commented Chief investigator, Dr. Mark Elliott.

We at I Am Sleep believe that early diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea could reduce the chances of car accidents and save lives.

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