Thursday 23 Oct 2014

Information and opinions presented here do not always represent the views of the American Heart Association.

Sleep apnea more common in people with stroke-related brainstem injuries

Published: 3:54 pm CDT, February 12, 2014

People whose strokes affected their brainstems had a significantly higher prevalence of sleep apnea than those whose stroke affected other parts of the brain, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2014.

Sleep apnea is marked by interrupted breathing during sleep and can lead to serious health problems including heart disease and stroke.

Researchers evaluated 355 ischemic stroke patients, median age 65, who were enrolled in the Brain Attack Surveillance in Corpus Christi Project.

Eleven percent of the patients had brainstem injuries. Of those, 84 percent had sleep apnea, compared to 59 percent who had sleep apnea, but no brainstem involvement.

“While these numbers are high, more research into the relationship between stroke and sleep apnea is needed before we recommend routine sleep apnea screening in post-stroke patients,” said Devin L. Brown, M.D., M.S., lead author of the study and associate professor of neurology and associate director of the stroke program at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Researchers screened patients for sleep apnea with a portable respiratory monitor about 13 days after a stroke. Neurologists determined brainstem involvement after reviewing CT and MRI brain scans, according to the abstract.

The study group was 59 percent Hispanic; 35 percent white; 4 percent African-American; and 1 percent Native American, according to the abstract.