Sleep Apnea Tied to Increased Risk of Stroke
This study is the largest study to date to link sleep apnea with increased risk of stroke. Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide and the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk of stroke in middle-aged and older adults, especially men, according to new results from a landmark study supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health. Overall, sleep apnea more than doubles the risk of stroke in men.
Akinso: A study shows that obstructive sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk of stroke in middle-aged and older adults, especially men.
Twery: Men who had untreated sleep apnea were up to three times more likely to experience a stroke than men who did not have sleep apnea.
Akinso: Dr. Michael Twery is the Director of the NIH National Center on Sleep Disorders Research.
Twery: This study examined middle aged adults to determine whether they had sleep apnea at the beginning of the study and then follow them for an average of nine years to see if there was any stroke event during that period of time.
Akinso: Obstructive sleep apnea is a common disorder in which the upper airway is occasionally narrowed or blocked, disrupting sleep and breathing during sleep. Researchers from the Sleep Heart Health Study, supported by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, report that the risk of stroke appears in men with mild sleep apnea and rises with the severity of sleep apnea.
Twery: Investigators from the Sleep Heart Health Study have examined the relationship between sleep disorder breathing or sleep apnea and the risk of a number of different cardiovascular diseases.
Akinso: Conducted in nine medical centers across the U.S., the Sleep Heart Health Study is the largest most comprehensive prospective, multi-center study on the risk of cardiovascular disease and other conditions related to sleep apnea. In the latest report, researchers studied stroke risk in about 5400 participants aged 40 years and older without a history of stroke.
Twery: The investigators have found that the risk of stroke particularly in men has increased as much as three fold. But also that sleep apnea increases the risk of high blood pressure or hypertension and the risk of diabetes and obesity.
Akinso: The researchers propose that the differences between men and women might be because men are more likely to develop sleep apnea at younger ages. Therefore, they tend to have untreated sleep apnea for longer periods of time than women.
Twery: Women were also at risk of stroke but only when they had severe untreated sleep apnea.
Akinso: Stroke is the second leading cause of death world wide. Dr. Twery says this study provides insight on sleep apnea and how cardiovascular problems such as stroke develop.
Twery: What the Sleep Heart Health Study has revealed in this study is that people have apnea and then later develop cardiovascular disease risk—whether it be stroke or high blood pressure or heart attack and so forth—the development of apnea preceded the development of the cardiovascular disease. And this gives us an important clue as to whether treating the sleep apnea maybe a potential important way to reduce these cardiovascular risks.
Akinso: More than 12 million American adults are believed to have sleep apnea, and most are not diagnosed or treated. Treatments to restore regular breathing during sleep include mouthpieces, surgery, and breathing devices. For more information on this study, or treatment options for sleep apnea or stroke, visit www.nhlbi.nih.gov. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Michael Twery
Topic: Sleep apnea, stroke