Research Spotlight: The Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Strokes
You may have heard there's a link between strokes and Sleep Apnea. What you might not know is the degree to which strokes can affect individuals, who is most at risk, and how CPAP therapy can help.
The Effects of a Stroke Can Be “Silent”
In general, a stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted, causing brain cells to die and brain damage to occur. Depending on the severity of the stroke, sufferers may have classical effects like paralysis and loss of speech. Alternatively, strokes can be “silent” without any outward symptoms but still damaging enough to cause future strokes or other health problems. (1)
The Number of Apneas Correlates with “Silent” Strokes
For the first time scientists have found a relationship between OSA and silent strokes. In a study of 56 elderly people who experienced strokes, 91% were found to have untreated Sleep Apnea. Having five or more Apneas a night statistically increased the chances the subject had suffered silent strokes. (2)
Men with OSA Are At an Increased Risk For Stroke
Statistically, men are at higher risk than women for having an OSA related-stroke. Researchers suggest this is because men tend to develop OSA at a younger age and likely go untreated longer. Furthermore, those with more severe cases of OSA had a higher risk of strokes. (3)
Positive Results: Your CPAP Therapy is Helping You
A separate study indicated stroke patients who had moderate to severe OSA significantly lowered their risk of another stroke with the use of CPAP treatment. Simply stated, using a CPAP machine can eliminate the possibility of negative stroke-related effects of OSA. Good news for all CPAP users. (4)
Watch This Video to Learn More
Watch this video from Voice of America to learn why Obstructive Sleep Apnea is increasingly being considered a risk factor for strokes.
(1) “Study: Millions Suffer Silent Strokes” - ABC News Feb 2012 (source).
(2) “Sleep Apnea May Be Tied to ‘Silent’ Strokes, Study Finds” - MedLine Plus, February 2012 (source).
(3) “Sleep Apnea Tied to Increased Risk of Stroke” - National Institutes of Health April 2012 (source).
(4) “CPAP Treatment Linked To Lower Mortality In Stroke Patients With OSA” - American Thoracic Society, June 2009 (source).