Sleep apnea sufferers are at double the risk of being in a car crash, according to a new study by Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and University of British Columbia respirologists. The study also found that sleep apnea patients are 3 to 5 times more likely to be in a serious car crash involving personal injury.

This study was the largest of its kind, and the first to examine the severity of sleep apnea related car crashes.

“Even those patients with fairly mild sleep apnea had an increased risk of serious crashes,” says Dr Najib Ayas of the Vancouver Coastal Health Sleep Disorders Program, author of the study and associate professor of medicine at UBC.

“The study suggests that the patients may not be aware of the potential driving hazards caused by sleep apnea,” says Dr John Fleetham, UBC professor of medicine and a co-author of the study.

The study was recently published in the online journal Thorax