Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 20 million Americans and can lead to hypertension, heart attack, stroke, depression, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Monday, January 11, 2010

E-mail about sleep apnea from a reader

I received this e-mail and decided to add to this blog specifically because of the Stanford study quoted about truckers. I think it is important to let everyone in the transportation industry know about this important conference from the American Sleep Apnea Association "Sleep Apnea & Trucking Conference"

The following is from the ASAA site
"The impact of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) on the health and safety of commercial truck drivers, as well as all transportation operators, has been a hot topic of discussion for years. While some progress is being made, much misinformation, policy confusion, and a lack of industry-specific research have prevented further progress on this important health and safety issue.

The Sleep Apnea & Trucking Conference 2010 is organized by the American Sleep Apnea Association and brings together trucking, regulatory, medical, insurance, legal and policy experts to provide accurate and reliable information about OSA diagnosis, treatment and compliance. This landmark event offers a forum for addressing key issues and guidance to improve driver health and safety, which can have a positive impact for the company.

Gain up-to-date, accurate and reliable information about sleep apnea and its bearing on trucking industry health and safety
Learn new cost-effective approaches to sleep apnea diagnosis, treatment and compliance
Receive a take-home resource toolkit with presentations, DVDs, reports, articles and materials to help company management address sleep apnea in their workplace
Interact with experts, colleagues and government officials to get your questions answered

Body mass index (BMI) guidelines
Interstate medical exams and enforcement
Affordability of diagnosis and treatment
Future research needs on prevalence and impact"

The following is the e-mail I received.

Although vastly underdiagnosed and virtually untreated, sleep apnea
can contribute to high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems and
strokes. It also can be deadly.

In one study, Stanford University researchers looked at 159 truck
drivers. They found that 79 percent had sleep apnea, and many were
unable to control when they fell asleep driving. In another study
looking at accidents in which drivers fell asleep at the wheel, 87
percent of the drivers died, taking with them one or two other

Men suffer from the condition almost three times more often than
women, , in part because of anatomical differences in the upper
airways. But because many women who suffer from it are
post-menopausal, there is some speculation it also may be
hormone-related, he said.

The most common and severe form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep
apnea. In many cases, it's caused by sagging muscles at the base of
the throat, enlarged tonsils, a small airway opening or a large
tongue, according to the American Medical Association Encyclopedia
of Medicine. In about 20 percent of cases, being overweight is a
major cause of the problem.

Obstructing the airway makes breathing labored and causes loud
snoring. If there is complete blockage, the breathing stops
altogether and the sleeper is briefly silent. This makes the
diaphragm and chest muscles work harder; the sleeper gasps and
briefly awakes as breathing is started again.

In central sleep apnea, the airway is opened but the diaphragm and
chest muscles don't work, perhaps because of a disturbance in the
brain's regulation of breathing during sleep, according to the AMA

If you suspect you're suffering from sleep apnea, talk to your
doctor, who may refer you to a lab where your sleep can be
monitored. Losing weight and avoiding alcohol before bedtime may
help. Wearing a mask attached to an air compressor that forces
oxygen into the airway is an effective treatment for severe cases.
And surgery that removes excess tissue from the throat is another

Obviously the writer of this e-mail has not read the I HATE CPAP website. There are excellent alternatives to CPAP besides surgery

Dr Ira L Shapira

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posted by Dr Shapira at 9:57 PM