Friday, July 1, 2011

Truck Drivers and Online Assessment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

A study done in the June edition of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine describes data from an online self-assessment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) done by truck drivers anonymously. Some estimates say that OSA occurs in 1 in 4 commercial drivers. I blogged about this in May.

This study was a web-based survey of the Berlin Questionnaire, a valid screening tool used to assess risk of OSA. The Berlin has three sections - sleepiness, snoring, and body-mass index (BMI) and high blood pressure (HTN). If the Berlin was positive (indicating elevated risk of OSA), the driver was provided a link to a local sleep center for further evaluation.

The results of the survey showed that ~56% of respondents were positive on the Berlin and that 78% were positive on the BMI / HTN section. Seventy percent were obese, defined as a BMI >30. Witnessed apneas were reported in 21% of responders and almost 21% admitted to falling asleep while driving!

The results stress the importance of testing and treating commercial drivers. How to identify those drivers at risk is still being debated. Hopefully we will have some guidelines from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration at the end of this summer.

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