Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, with factors such as age, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation and diabetes proven to increase risk. A new study now firmly establishes sleep apnea as yet another risk factor. The findings by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute connect sleep apnea with an increased risk of stroke in middle-aged and older adults, especially men. Men with moderate to severe sleep apnea were shown to be nearly three times more likely to have a stroke compared to men without sleep apnea or with mild sleep apnea.

Why men?

Researchers concluded that men are more likely to develop sleep apnea at a younger age than women and therefore, have untreated sleep apnea for longer periods of time which does more damage to a man's health.

What testing is being done?

To further study the connection between sleep apnea and stroke, researchers are now looking to see what kinds of treatment for sleep apnea are best at reducing one's risk for stroke. Common treatments to restore regular breathing during sleep include breathing devices such as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).

As further testing is done to determine the cardiovascular effects of using CPAP to help treat sleep apnea, the successful application of this treatment should result in the decreased occurrence of stroke.

What's next?

As it stands, sleep apnea affects over 12 million American adults. Untreated sleep apnea is a dangerous condition on its own, and can:

  • Increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, obesity and diabetes.
  • Make irregular heartbeats more likely.
  • Increase the chances of having work-related or driving accidents.

Healthy sleep is important!

Talk to your health care provider today if you suffer from sleep apnea. Getting treatment may not only give you a better night's sleep, but may reduce your risk of this serious cardiovascular condition.

To find a doctor or speak to a nurse, call Consult-A-Nurse® at (951) 788-3463, 24 hours a day.
For more information, visit our Certified Primary Stroke Center.