About 40% of commercial drivers may have obstructive sleep apnea, suggests a research review in the June Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Paul D. Blanc, MD, MSPH, of University of California San Francisco and colleagues reviewed and analyzed previous studies of occupation as a risk factor for OSA. All studies used sleep laboratory testing (polysomnography, or PSG) to diagnose OSA.
Analysis of pooled data from 16 studies suggested that 41% of commercial drivers may have OSA—nearly twice as high as for non-obese men in the general population.
Further analysis of a select group of studies estimated a 35% rate of mild OSA in commercial drivers and a 12% rate of moderate to severe OSA.
Data from eight studies suggested a possible increase in OSA risk among workers exposed to solvents—although this risk could not be statistically confirmed. A handful of other studies suggested possible increases in OSA among railroad workers, shift workers, and World Trade Center disaster responders.
Daytime sleepiness and other OSA symptoms may be associated with an increased risk of accidents.
Regardless of the other factors involved, daytime sleepiness and other OSA symptoms may be associated with an increased risk of accidents.
Further studies are needed to clarify possible occupational associations with OSA.
Dr. Blanc and colleagues conclude, “Pending more definitive data, clinicians should take into account occupational factors in considering sleep disorders and OSA, which carry significant associated costs from comorbidities and occupational disability.”