By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – I regularly recommend that my patients with symptoms of sleep apnea undergo sleep studies to evaluate if they need treatment.

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We know that people with sleep apnea not only have concentration issues because of poor quality sleep but also are at risk for other health issues like hypertension.

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Now comes news that people with untreated sleep apnea may be less alert behind the wheel and this could make them more vulnerable to the effects of sleep loss and alcohol than healthy drivers.

The numbers are startling: it’s estimated that traffic accidents related to obstructive sleep apnea cause 1,400 deaths in the US each year. There are simple tests to see if someone is driving under the influence of alcohol but it is not so easy for sleep apnea.

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That is why, if you think you or a loved one has the condition, you owe it to yourself and others to have it checked.