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Even Mild Sleep Apnea May Raise Risk of Stroke in Men

Study links stroke with even mild OSA in men; link only seen with more severe OSA in women

FRIDAY, April 9 (HealthDay News) -- While severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is linked with increased risk of stroke in men and women, men with even mild to moderate OSA may also be at increased risk, according to research published online March 25 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Susan Redline, M.D., of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and colleagues followed 5,422 individuals, who had no history of stroke and had not been treated for sleep apnea, for a median of 8.7 years in a multi-center, prospective cohort study.

The researchers observed 193 ischemic strokes over that time period, and found a significant positive association between stroke and obstructive apnea hypopnea index (OAHI) in men. Men in the highest OAHI quartile (greater than 19) had an adjusted hazard ratio of 2.86. In men in the mild to moderate range for OAHI (5 to 25), the risk of stroke went up an estimated 6 percent with each one-unit increase in OAHI. In women, OAHI quartiles and stroke were not significantly associated, but women with an OAHI greater than 25 did have an increased risk of stroke.

"This study provides compelling evidence that modest to severe levels of sleep apnea increase risk of ischemic stroke in men, suggesting the need to evaluate the role of sleep apnea treatment in ameliorating stroke risk," the authors write.

A co-author disclosed financial ties to Philips-Respironics, a manufacturer of sleep-related devices.

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