A Reuters report indicates that commercial truck drivers who get treatment for obstructive sleep apnea for 2 years may reduce their risk of a crash.

The study team referred the 24 drivers with severe OSA to receive continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which keeps airways open during sleep. For two years, all these men used the treatment for at least four hours per night on at least five nights per week.

In the initial phase of the study, the researchers also analyzed all the drivers’ survey responses about their past accidents and near-misses. They found that drivers with severe obstructive sleep apnea were 4.75 times more likely to be involved in near-miss accidents than non-OSA drivers.

After two years of treatment, the near-miss accidents dropped to a rate comparable to drivers without OSA. Only two drivers reported sleep-related accidents after treatment.

“Recently, untreated OSA among U.S. truck drivers was shown to increase the risk of serious, preventable accidents by five-fold,” said Stefanos Kales of Harvard Medical School in Boston, who published the U.S. findings in March in the journal Sleep.

The Italian study uses more encompassing screening criteria with a higher sensitivity than the U.S. study did, which is important in showing how prevalent OSA is in truck drivers, said Kales, who was not involved in the current study.

Read the full story at www.reuters.com