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.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Truck Drivers face High Rates of Sleep Apnea, Possible New Sleep Apnea Regulations

Coinciding with the news that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is seeking to adopt new sleep apnea recommendations for drivers of tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles is a study from Australian researchers that indicates 41 percent of truck drivers suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

In February, the FMCSA received proposals from two advisory bodies for updating its regulations regarding drivers who suffer from sleep apnea. One of the recommendations is using a body mass index of 35 or higher along with an apnea hypopnea index of 20 or greater (which includes a range from moderate to severe sleep apnea) as the catalyst for sleep apnea testing and treatment.

The proposal from one of the FMCSA’s medical advisory panels called for treatment with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, but not the use of dental sleep medicine, which includes custom oral appliances. While CPAP can be an effective treatment for sleep apnea, many patients discontinue its use because the devices are cumbersome and require wearing a mask while sleeping.

Although oral appliances have proven effective in treating many instances of sleep apnea and have a higher rate of continued use among patients, they were not included in the recommendations of the advisory panels. The FMCSA is currently reviewing the proposed changes.

Meanwhile, an Australian study of more than 500 long-distance semi-truck drivers found that 41 percent suffered from OSA. Only about 4 percent, however, reported that they had been diagnosed with a sleep disorder prior to the study.

The study, the results of which were published in the April issue of the journal Sleep, also found that significant numbers of truckers shared traits indicating a high risk for sleep apnea. Researchers found that 49 percent of truck drivers in the study smoke cigarettes, 36 percent are overweight and 50 percent are obese.

If you suffer from symptoms of sleep apnea, an experienced dentist may be able to help. Please contact IHateCPAP.com to locate a qualified sleep dentist near you.

posted by Steve at 8:16 AM