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Sleep Apnea Increases Risk of Stroke

Updated on March 4, 2015

Snoring Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

Sleep Apnea
Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that causes the airway to narrow and become blocked during sleep. The condition is associated with snoring, disrupted sleep, and problems breathing during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea wake up frequently during sleep, sometimes several hundred times a night. As a result, the brain, other parts of the body, and other organs may not be getting enough oxygen through the night. Lack of oxygen can contribute to heart disease, stroke, depression, worsening of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) symptoms, poor functioning at work and school, and motor vehicle accidents due to fatigue and inattentiveness. Although often associated with middle aged and older men, sleep apnea also affects women and children, and often contributes to academic underachievement and behavioral problems in children and adolescents.


Gender Differences

 

Recent research findings indicate that men with even mild forms of sleep apnea are at risk for stroke.  Their risk for stroke increases as the severity of the sleep apnea increases from mild to severe.  Sleep apnea more than doubles the risk of stroke in men.  Women’s risk for stroke seems to be only with severe forms of sleep apnea.  The gender differences appear to be related to an earlier onset of sleep apnea in men, and therefore an extended length of time in which the condition is untreated.  The risk of stroke then seems to be related to the cumulative effect of sleep apnea over long periods of time.

Stroke

Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide.  There are several well known risk factors for stroke, such as age, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems.  There are also many cases of stroke for which the causes and contributing factors are unknown.  The recent research suggests that treating sleep apnea can prevent stroke and reduce the incidence of stroke, and supports earlier studies in which sleep apnea and stroke have been linked.  Sleep apnea has also been linked with an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, irregular heartbeats, heart failure, obesity and diabetes.  

Research

 The recent study was larger and more comprehensive than earlier ones.  Additional research is needed to determine whether treating sleep apnea does in fact reduce the risk for stroke and the incidence of stroke.  Stimulus funds and funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are being utilized to further explore the effects of sleep apnea on cardiovascular disease and to examine effective treatments for sleep apnea.

Prevalence and Treatment Implications

Currently, more than 12 million American adults are believed to have sleep apnea.  Most of these have undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea.  Increased diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea could have a profound impact on the health and well being of the population, and could have a positive impact on healthcare spending by targeting prevention of disease rather than costly treatments for disease.

 

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    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 5 years ago

      Thanks vocalcoach. You're in the very good company of 12 million American adults:) I'm headed over to your new hub now.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Dear Kim - Thank you so much for this very informative hub. I was just diagnosed with severe sleep apnea and started on the CPAP. I also just published a hub about Sleep Apnea and posted a link to this hub. Voted up across and of course, sharing!

    • molometer profile image

      molometer 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Kim, It's posted up and you can read it at your leisure lol

      Here is the link to save you looking for it.

      https://hubpages.com/health/Are-You-A-Night-Owl-De...

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      I hope your wife feels good as new soon, molometer. Thanks for the comments...and links. I'll look for your new hub on delayed sleep....can hardly stand the suspense! Although I may have to wait until am as i am way more tired than usual tonight.

    • molometer profile image

      molometer 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Kim,

      Congratulations on another well researched, well written, very useful and crucially informative hub.

      My wife used the C-pap for the first time last night and she slept silently all night. She awoke refreshed but she has been ill for months and I suppose it will take a few days to feel the full benefit. I am just so thankful that we caught it in time.

      Thanks for adding the links, much appreciated. I'm publishing a hub today on Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome DSPS and the effect it has on the individual. I'll add your two hubs into that too.

      Well done. Keep up the good work.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I'm glad your friend began to use her mask. A person with sleep apnea doesn't know he/she has a problem unless someone tells them "hey your snoring is outta control" and suggests a sleep clinic. I hope this hub helps save a life or two or three :)

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      That's sad. I really feel for her family. I'm glad your husband uses his Cpap. A lady I used to work with felt lousy all the time - insomnia, headaches, tired - and she wasn't using a Cpap - she never went back to get it. She went back to get her sleep apnea checked again and to get a Cpap, and is doing great now. Thanks for reading and commenting Sunshine625:)

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Sleep apnea can be lethal if untreated. My husband has it and uses a Cpap. Last week a 36 year old writer died in her sleep due to untreated sleep apnea. How sad. Thanks for getting the word out there!!! :)

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 7 years ago

      awesome that you quit! I quit 9/19/09! Quitting should help at least some with the COPD, I would guess. Weight mgt might be a problem for awhile! Thanks for getting back to me on that. I'm glad you checked it out and are getting treatment....and I'm glad you don't have sleep apnea!

    • blackreign2012 profile image

      blackreign2012 7 years ago

      @kim its not sleep apnea I suffer from its COPD.. my own fault of course smoking for 15 years has its consequences.. I am not discouraged. I need to change the way and what I eat.. and I have offically been smoke free for three days.. Not much but its a start. I am sure I will be fine. Its manageable and that's a positive note ~smile~ Just givin you an update ~hugs~

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 7 years ago

      Let me know the outcome of that, blackreign. Your s.o. will love the treatment as well as the snoring. The c-pap is very attractive....and pricey too. But, the alternative, stroke, etc., much worse. Thanks for reading.

    • blackreign2012 profile image

      blackreign2012 7 years ago

      Dang I think i will make a doctors app just to make sure I don't suffer from this. I snore; loudly according to my significant lol.. Well written excelent hub! ~HUGS~

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 7 years ago

      Cool. That was a great hub! I thought they should be linked when I read it, but didn't know that coulc be done.

      https://hubpages.com/literature/My-Love-Loves-A-Ma...

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 7 years ago

      Hi Kim! This is a great hub! I linked you to my "My Love Loves A Man Who Snores!" a couple times. I hope you get a bunch of hits. This is great.

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 7 years ago

      Thanks Billy. I'm glad for your Dad, and really appreciate your support.

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 7 years ago

      A very extensive hub on Sleep Apnea Kim. At one point the doctors thought my father suffered from it and we were all very worried, rightly so! It turns out he doesn't thankfully.