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Sleep apnea tied to stroke risk

October 3, 2012

There is ample evidence tying quality of sleep to overall health, and Canadian researchers say one condition in particular could raise one's risk of suffering a stroke. Obstructive sleep apnea, which affects about 2 percent of women and 4 percent of men, not only ups the risk of a stroke but also for complications.

Experts say that about 60 percent of stroke victims suffer from sleep apnea, which is caused when breathing obstructions cause disruptions in sleep. Aside from a restless night's sleep, the issues with breathing can also cause a lack of oxygen to get to the brain. Though there are treatment methods, experts say prevention is the best course of action.

"There are ways to prevent sleep apnea from occurring," said Dr. Brian Murray an associate professor of neurology and sleep medicine. "Keep your body weight low as obesity is a major contributor to sleep apnea - avoid medications and substances that relax the airways and cause snoring, such as sedatives and alcohol - and sleeping on your side can minimize sleep disordered breathing."

Findings way to limit stroke risk is a key component of healthy aging. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 140,000 people die from strokes each year in the United States.