The public health impact of obstructive sleep apnea hypopnea – a focus on work productivity, occupational injuries and motor vehicle crashes

Sleep is an integral part of our lives. Inadequate or poor quality nightly sleep has many adverse health and safety consequences. The most important medical disorder that disrupts sleep is obstructive sleep apnea hypopnea (OSAH), a common, under-diagnosed condition characterized by recurrent collapse of the upper airway during sleep (up to 100 times per hour). Symptoms of the disease include loud snoring, nocturnal choking, poor quality sleep, recurrent awakenings, daytime sleepiness, impaired alertness, reduced quality of life, hypertension and strokes. Therapy to prevent the upper airway from collapsing can reverse many of these symptoms. Dr. Najib Ayas’s work is focused on investigating the pathogenesis, diagnosis, therapy, economic impact, occupational impact, public health, and safety consequences of sleep disorders, with a particular focus on OSAH. For instance, by developing a comprehensive registry of patients with OSAH, he hopes to determine whether patients with OSAH suffer from reduced work productivity and higher rates of occupational injuries and motor vehicle crashes; and whether therapy reduces these risks. Findings could then be used to develop screening and treatment guidelines for OSAH, and occupational and transportation policy recommendations. In the future, this unique registry will help identify biochemical cardiovascular risk, genetic and biochemical factors associated with OSAH.