Hidden Health Risks: Sleep Apnea and Silent Stroke

STUDY LINKS SLEEP APNEA AND SILENT STROKE

Strokes affect 795,000 Americans annually, according to the American Stroke Association. The estimated 12 million Americans with the sleep disorder Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) are at an increased risk for strokes to occur. Now a new study also links OSA to “silent strokes” which cause tissue death in the brain without any symptoms. So, OSA has itself been linked to an increase in strokes.

Health Day reports that Dr. Jessica Kepplinger, a fellow at the University of Technology in Dresden, Germany, ran a study which evaluated 56 patients who had an acute stroke and found that 91% of them had a form of Sleep Apnea. Using brain imaging software, they also found that the more severe the Sleep Apnea, the more likely it was for the patients to suffer silent strokes.

WHY ARE WE SO CONCERNED ABOUT SLEEP APNEA?

Sleep apnea is an airway condition. People with sleep apnea literally stop breathing for intervals of 10 seconds or more during their sleep. This can occur dozens of times each night and results in many related health risks due to disturbances in the sleep cycle as well as oxygen deprivation in the brain.

The American Sleep Association notes that 4% of the adult population is diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, but about 80% of the people with OSA are left undiagnosed. When left undiagnosed and untreated, those with OSA are often unaware of the multitude of additional health risks and factors such as stroke and silent stroke.

HOW A VISIT TO THE DENTIST CAN HELP

Detection, diagnosis and treatment of Sleep Apnea can help improve overall health and wellness. By making those suffering from Sleep Apnea aware of other health risks patients are better able to address and manage them.

Who better to detect an airway issue than a dentist who is already examining your mouth? Dr. Nadler screens every patient for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. If any risk of sleep apnea is evident, patients are referred for a sleep test and informed about treatment options, including a custom dental device that repositions the jaw and tongue to keep the airway open.

If you have questions about our Sleep Apnea screenings or treatment with dental appliances, please call our office at 908-359-6655.

LINKS AND RESOURCES

More about symptoms and treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea at Designs For Dental Health

American Sleep Association website about sleep apnea

Full article about the study linking sleep apnea and silent stroke

NOTE: Originally posted April 5th, 2012

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