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More sleep apnea awareness needed

The U.S. could save nearly 1,000 motorists lives every year, and some $11 billion in collision costs, through standard sleep-apnea treatment, according to researchers quoted in a Reuters report featured on HeartCenter Online.

A recent study suggests that of an estimated 1,400 obstructive-apnea-related traffic deaths in the year 2000, 980 could have been prevented had the driver been treated with a “CPAP,” a device made to regulate airway pressure during sleep.

According to one study, 28 percent of commercial truck drivers have sleep apnea. Drivers with diabetes and high blood pressure (which is disproportionately high among shiftworkers) are at a greater risk of developing this sleep disorder.

Several effective and inexpensive options exist for treating apnea, including the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device (CPAP) mentioned above. When considering measures for reducing costs, risks, and liabilities in the extended hours workplace (and the transportation sector especially), apnea education, prevention, and treatment should be of central importance, says Brian E. O’Neill of Circadian Technologies.

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