Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sleep Apnea Doubles Risk of Stroke in Men

Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide. New research shows that treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may help doctors prevent similar deaths in the future.

Researchers from the Sleep Heart Health Study (SHHS) found that OSA is associated with an increased risk of stroke in middle-aged and older adults, especially men.

The study was published by the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. It is the largest study to-date linking sleep apnea and increased risk of stroke.

Each of the 5,422 participants took an at-home sleep test to determine if they suffered from sleep apnea and, if so, to what extent. Each person was 40 years of age or older. No one had a history of stroke or treatment for sleep apnea.

The researchers followed the participants for nine years. Over this period, 85 men and 108 women had strokes.

On average, men with sleep apnea were twice as likely as men without sleep apnea to have a stroke. This risk increased with OSA severity. Men with moderate to severe sleep apnea were nearly three times more likely to have a stroke than men without sleep apnea or with mild OSA.

"Overall, the increased risk of stroke in men with sleep apnea is comparable to adding 10 years to a man's age,” said Dr. Susan Redline in a news release.

Increased risk was independent of other risk factors such as weight, high blood pressure, race, smoking and diabetes.

The researchers also found a link between sleep apnea and increased risk of stroke in women. Unlike with the men, increased stroke risk in women was only associated with severe OSA.

This landmark study was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health. The researchers believe that these results may help doctors learn how cardiovascular problems like strokes and high cholesterol develop.

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.