Sleep Apnea? Use Caution on the Road
According to a new study, which analyzed data from a driving simulator, people with sleep apnea—also called obstructive sleep apnea or OSA—have a higher-than-normal risk of being involved in a car crash. Researchers evaluated study participants’ Epworth Sleepiness Score—a reliable tool used to assess sleepiness—and measured blood oxygen levels. Participants also completed a driving questionnaire.
Study participants, as well as a control group, then completed driving simulations, which were scored based on a “pass,” “intermediate,” and “fail” system. Overall, people with sleep apnea were more likely to admit sleepiness during the simulation and experienced more episodes of nodding while “driving.” While 53 percent of the control group passed and none of the group failed, only 31 percent of the OSA group passed and 20 percent failed.
Lane deviation was recognized as the primary reason for failing the driving simulation. According to researchers, car crash risk is two to six times higher in people with untreated sleep apnea.
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