Sleep Apnea Treatment Helps Improve Stroke Recovery

Doctors know that sleep apnea is a known risk factor for stroke. The big surprise is that current the treatment of sleep apnea may aid in the recovery of stroke patients. Clinical trials set to be run by the University of Michigan, to prove that CPAP therapy may provide a greater benefit to stroke patients than the FDA-approved drug treatment.

According to Devin Brown, M.D., MS a neurologist and longtime stroke researcher, about 70 percent of post-stroke patients have sleep apnea. While researchers see the association between stroke and sleep apnea, they still don’t know the nature of it.

There are many other factors to consider as well, the researchers have not considered patients that may not be CPAP compliant or how oral applications, which are also used to treat sleep apnea my affect the study. They also do not know if stroke patients have always suffered from sleep apnea or if it was an effect of the stroke. The study is scheduled to run over a five-year period and will be the largest in the history of Michigan Medicine’s Department of Neurology.

The study will track outcomes of people who have suffered from stroke or mini-stroke and will compare a group who will be given the standard treatment for sleep apnea and a group who will receive only standard care after stroke. The aim is to determine whether going forward, if future patients who have a stroke should be screened and treated for OSA. This study will also be extremely useful to sleep specialist for the treatment for snoring as well.

Early trial results have shown that the sooner the treatment for OSA in stroke victims start, the better the recovery for those patients. Researchers believe that an apnea event (such as a throat closing) may act like the choking that sometimes happens immediately after a stroke. OSA treatment may be effective in survival and recovery of some of the brain after stroke as well. Oral appliances as well as CPAP machines have been proven effective in the prevention of the airway closing during sleep.

The final results of the trial will prove very interesting, and will help to further help in the treatment of sleep apnea and OSA. Funding for the trial comes from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) at the National Institutes of Health.

If you know you are at risk for stroke, ask your doctor if you can benefit with sleep apnea treatment as a preventative measure. Or if you feel that you may suffer from sleep apnea or OSA, consult your sleep doctor to request a sleep study. Once a sleep study is done, your sleep doctor or sleep dentist can help you determine what treatment is best for you.

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