Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A New Preventive and Therapeutic Target for Stroke

A New Kid on the Block
  • Vahid Mohsenin
    Requests for reprints should be addressed to Vahid Mohsenin, MD, FCCP, 15 York St, Leoppard Laboratory of Clinical Investigation, New Haven, CT 06510.
    Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn
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Published:February 28, 2015DOI:


      Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide and a major cause of mental and physical impairment. Numerous studies have identified risk factors for stroke, including hypertension, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, and smoking. However, even after considering these well-recognized risk factors, there is substantial variation in stroke rates and stroke-related outcomes. There is emerging evidence that obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of stroke independently of traditional risk factors. Obstructive sleep apnea is present in the majority of patients with stroke and contributes to persistent neurologic impairment. Early recognition and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea during the post-stroke period lead to better neurologic outcome. Healthcare providers should be aware of the strong association of obstructive sleep apnea as a risk factor for stroke and its effect on neurologic recovery. The presence of hypertension and diabetes—the 2 most common comorbid conditions in obstructive sleep apnea—should prompt diagnostic workup for and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea as a way of primary and secondary prevention of stroke.


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