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Snoring Warning Sign For Higher Stroke Risk - Sleep Apnea More Than Doubles Risk for Ischemic Stroke - Spanish Study Determines Risk Factor

August 3rd 2006

Snoring Warning Sign For Higher Stroke Risk - Sleep Apnea More Than Doubles Risk for Ischemic Stroke - Spanish Study Determines Risk Factor

CPAP machine

Researchers in Spain say that snoring is a symptom of Sleep Apnea and can be a warning sign for patients at a higher risk for ischemic stroke (blockage preventing blood from reaching a portion of the brain).  This study involved 394 elderly participants between 70 and 100 years of age. 

All the participants lived in Vitoria, a small town in northern Spain. The researchers measured their height, weight, body mass index, neck circumference and medications for hypertension, diabetes and cholesterol.  All of the patients were then given a sleep study.  The sleep studies were used to determine who had sleep apnea and who did not.

Sleep apnea is a condition where sleepers stop breathing during the night.  The vast majority of people with the condition do not realize they have it because it occurs when they are asleep.  The more common form of apnea is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).  This is characterized by a pause in breathing due to a relaxation and narrowing of the throat.  Snoring and wheezing are symptoms of OSA. 
 

If you are sleeping with someone that is snoring, listen for breaks in their breathing.  This will happen in the pauses between snores.  The sleeper does not realize this, but he is actually awakened slightly in an effort to catch his or her breath (men usually suffer from OSA).  The condition may also cause daytime drowsiness. 

Previous studies have shown that blood pressure will rise and fall during these episodes. The only way to truly diagnose the condition is to have a sleep study done.  These are typically done by cardiopulmonary specialists.  Treating sleep apnea with a Constant Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) machine has also been shown to lower the risk for heart failure.     

 

After six years of study there were 20 ischemic strokes. People who suffered a stroke were more likely to be male and have the more severe sleep apnea. The Spanish researchers found that patients with severe sleep apnea were two-and-a-half times more likely to suffer a stroke compared to people who did not suffer from apnea, or those who had a mild to moderate sleep apnea.

"This study provides more evidence that severe sleep apnea represents an independent risk factor for stroke in the elderly population," said Roberto Muñoz, M.D., lead author of the study. He added "Sleep apnea is two to three times more common in the elderly compared to middle-aged people. However, typical symptoms of sleep apnea, such as loud snoring or excessive daytime sleepiness, are less prevalent in the elderly compared to middle-aged people. We should be aware of these symptoms, and specifically look for the presence of repetitive breathing pauses in our patients and relatives”. Muñoz is a neurologist at the Hospital de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain.

 

"Snoring is the most important warning sign for sleep apnea," Muñoz said. "People who live alone, which is common in the elderly, should be aware that excessive daytime sleepiness is another key risk factor."

Researchers suggest apnea treatment be started if doctors find a high rate of episodes of decreased breathing or breathing interruption, particularly in patients with other cardiovascular risk factors. The research appears in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

 
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Dan Wilson
Best Syndication

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Important:  The material on Best Syndication is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. You should promptly seek professional medical care if you have any concern about your health, and you should always consult your physician before starting a fitness program.
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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                   Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:51 PM