The Role Of Sleep Apnea In Increasing The Risk Of A Stroke

It is well known that sleep apnea sufferers are also at risk from a number of other health problems and one of these is the risk of having a stroke. It is now becoming clear however that treating sleep apnea can significantly lower stroke risk.

Many sleep apnea sufferers also suffer from lesions caused by what are known as silent brain infarctions. Also referred to as subclinical cerebrovascular disease, silent brain infarction is the effective death of tissue within the brain resulting from a poor blood supply. Normal clinical tests do not detect the presence of this condition (hence the term ‘subclinical’) which will however show up on a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scan. The presence of silent brain infarctions is often seen as a precursor to a stroke.

In addition, many sleep apnea sufferers also show increased levels of several inflammatory markers which are associated with coronary artery disease and these in turn are indicative of a heightened risk of silent brain infarction.

As a result of these findings researchers conducted tests on some 50 men suffering from moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea and noted that some 25 percent of the test group demonstrated evidence of silent brain infarctions. This compares to a figure of around 8 percent in people suffering from only mild obstructive sleep apnea.

The same researchers then treated 24 men with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) delivered nasally and found that in all cases the subjects showed significantly reduced levels of the protein markers associated with cardiovascular disease, indicating a similarly significant reduction in the risk of cerebrovascular disease and thus of stroke.

In many cases the treatment of one particular condition can not only improve that condition, but can also have a knock-on affect. This is clearly the case with moderate to severe sleep apnea and the administration of simple CPAP treatment can not only considerably improve the sufferer quality of sleepBusiness Management Articles, but also significantly reduce the sufferer’s risk of having a stroke.

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