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How does sleep apnea contribute to car accidents?

Numerous Americans, including many residing in Pennsylvania, stop or struggle to breath while they sleep. This is a medical condition known as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea, when left untreated, can make it difficult for a person to function during the day and cause a host of other health issues. Because of the effects that this condition can have on an individual, it also known to contribute to car accidents.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine conducted a study a while back about the correlation between sleep apnea and car accidents. They found that individuals with sleep apnea are 2.5 times more likely to cause motor vehicle collisions. Why?

Sleep apnea affects the body in a couple of ways. First, when a person stops or struggles to breath, his or her oxygen levels will drop. Second, in order to get the body breathing again it has to wake up, either fully or partially, this disrupts one's sleep cycle. The combination of these two things causes the brain to receive inadequate amounts of oxygen over several hours and causes one to miss out on the deeper, restorative stages of sleep.

Sleep apnea sufferers are more likely to fall asleep or experience what are called microsleep sessions while driving. This, of course, can lead to car accidents. This is preventable, though, if the proper treatment is utilized. CPAP therapy, if used nightly, can greatly reduce the odds of sleep apnea sufferers causing auto collisions. Unfortunately, many individuals fail to use the therapy at all or as prescribed.

When medical conditions contribute to car accidents, victims may have legal recourse. An experienced attorney can assist those who have been injured or lost loved ones in such events in filing and litigating the claims applicable to their cases. If successful, a Pennsylvania civil court may grant a monetary judgment for any documented damages.

Source: aasmnet.org, "Risk of motor vehicle accidents is higher in people with sleep apnea", Accessed on May 15, 2017

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