Having severe sleep apnea may make people more at risk for silent strokes and small brain lesions, researchers found.
A study presented this week at the American Stroke Assn.'s International Stroke Conference in New Orleans focused on 56 people, average age 67, who had had strokes. They were tested for sleep apnea and underwent magnetic resonance imaging and computerized tomography scans, which were reviewed by a radiologist who didn't know the results of the apnea tests.
Almost all (91%) of the study participants who had a stroke also had sleep apnea. They were also more likely to have silent strokes as well as white matter lesions on their brains.
Researchers also discovered that having more than five episodes of sleep apnea a night was linked with having silent strokes. And more than a third of participants who had evidence of white matter lesions also had severe sleep apnea.