Every year, about 200 people are killed in traffic accident in San Diego County alone. Unfortunately, sleep apnea increases your risk of being one of them. But new research suggests that treating your sleep apnea may reduce your risk to be close to that of the general population.
Comparing Sleep Apnea Patients to the General Population
In a recently published paper, researchers compared a population of nearly 1500 sleep apnea patients with the general population in Sweden.
Their results showed that sleep apnea patients were 2.5 times more likely to get involved in car accidents than the general population. This result is consistent with other research on the subject, which has shown similar levels of risk. They found that the drivers with the greatest risk were older drivers, but all patients with sleep apnea were at increased risk.
Although the study showed that there didn’t seem to be a direct correlation between the severity of sleep apnea (as measured in apnea/hypopnea index, AHI) and accident risk, the study did show that sleep apnea treatment reduced accident risk by two-thirds, from an average of 7.6 accidents per 1000 drivers per year, to just 2.5 accidents per 1000 drivers per year.
Not Considering All Treatment Options
As with many other studies of sleep apnea treatment, this study had the limitation that it only looked at treatment with CPAP and not with oral appliances. To count as using CPAP, patients had to use the device for only four hours a night, which seems like a pretty low bar, but it has to be. Many CPAP users don’t use their CPAP very much, if they use it at all.
That’s why oral appliances are becoming a more popular sleep apnea treatment option. Studies have shown that, for many applications, the results of the two treatment options are comparable, including the reduction of daytime sleepiness that can lead to dozing off behind the wheel and car accidents.
If you want to learn about this more comfortable treatment option for your sleep apnea in San Diego, please call (619) 299-5925 for an appointment with a sleep dentist at Strober Dental.