Untreated sleep breathing disorders and stroke
It’s estimated that 8 out of 10 people with any form of sleep apnea remain undiagnosed (and, therefore, untreated).
“Sleep apnea can be an after effect of stroke, but can also be the cause of a first time or recurrent stroke. The condition causes low oxygen levels and high blood pressure, both of which can increase the risk of a future stroke.”
“During an apneic episode, the body asserts an amazing amount of effort to try to open the airway and get a breath in,” Dr. Lipford reported. Unfortunately, this effort frequently fails to supply the brain with the oxygen it needs to keep the entire body and all its systems working smoothly as you sleep.
When low blood oxygen persists, the sympathetic nervous system releases surges of stress hormones which elevate blood pressure levels and lead to fluctuations in heart rate.
Over time, these ongoing and untreated conditions during sleep will lead to systemic problems with uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension) and a heart arrhythmia condition known as atrial fibrillation (AFib) (learn more about AFib here). Hypertension and AFib are two well-known risk factors for stroke.
Research from the New England Journal of Medicine in 2005 shows conclusive evidence that sleep apnea “is significantly associated with the risk of stroke or death from any cause, and this association is independent of other risk factors, including hypertension. Increased severity of the syndrome is associated with an incremental increase in the risk of this composite outcome.”