We know that sleep apnea leads to increased risk of car accidents, especially serious car accidents. Now a new study confirms that sleep apnea treatment reduces that risk, so you can be safer on the road.
Comparing Sleep Apnea Patients to the General Population
In order to determine the impact of sleep apnea treatment on driving safety, researchers in Sweden compared the number of car accidents experienced by a population of nearly 1500 patients who had sleep apnea with car accident statistics based on the country’s overall traffic data. They found that patients with sleep apnea were about 2.5 times more likely to be involved in car accidents, although not equally. Older patients were much more likely to be involved in a car accident (about 7 accidents per 1000 drivers per year, compared to 2 accidents for the general population). According to this study, there seemed to be no direct correlation between the severity of sleep apnea, measured by the apnea-hypopnea index, and the accident risk.
What researchers did find is that sleep apnea treatment dramatically reduced the car accident risk. Sleep apnea patients who were treated saw their accident risk drop dramatically, from 7.6 accidents per 1000 drivers per year to only 2.5, almost down to the same risk as the general population.
Not Considering All Treatment Options
One limitation of this study is that it only looked at one treatment option: CPAP. The bar for CPAP use was set pretty low, too (4 hours or more of use per night), which it usually has to be, because many patients don’t use CPAP all night (if they use it at all).
Although this study didn’t look at the impact of oral appliances, other studies have shown that for many patients they have comparable levels of effectiveness at treating sleep apnea. This means that you don’t have to get CPAP in order to reduce your car accident risk from sleep apnea. What matters most is that you get a sleep apnea treatment that you will use.
If you would like to learn more about your sleep apnea treatment options, please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment with an Omaha sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.