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I recently read a very interesting article in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care, which had some very important information I would like to get out to the community.
I am sure everyone is familiar with obstructive sleep apnea and stroke — two disease entities that can cause severe problems, and affect quality of life.
You can imagine the damage and problems that can occur if one is superimposed on the other. Oxygen and circulation levels that are affected and depleted by obstructive sleep apnea and stroke can place one at risk for an early demise.
A study cited in the journal showed stroke patients who were offered CPAP equipment for their obstructive sleep apnea when diagnosed had much better outcomes than patients who were not identified, or refused to use a CPAP device.
Once again, CPAP is a device you wear at night that keeps the airway open and non-obstructed, so oxygen levels to the brain and the heart remain at normal levels.
Researchers had learned that, when they followed a group for five years, nearly half of them had passed away at the conclusion of the study. But it seems noncompliance with their CPAP device was the causative factor, thus suggesting CPAP is an excellent device to prevent further stroke damage.
There also are other variables, including the patient’s age and gender, and whether he or she smokes and lives a healthy lifestyle. But it was clear in the study that obstructive sleep apnea patients had nearly two times the risk of death compared to the ones who were compliant and wore their CPAP device at night.
Admittedly, it is difficult to take into account all the possible factors that can influence whether an individual has another stroke or not — such as diet and lifestyle measures, and whether they are taking their medications on a regular basis — but this study did point out that obstructive sleep apnea, and previous history of stroke, if not addressed, can be a very lethal combination.
Obviously, patient education for those who are unaware of the risk factors of obstructive sleep apnea is important to get out there, as well as improvements on equipment, so the patients who do decide to undergo CPAP treatment will remain compliant and stay on the medication for their entire life, thus reducing their risk for early death and extending their life and quality of life.
As we all know, sometimes strokes do not kill you quickly — they injure you, and leave you with a long period of poor quality of life.
Denis Grillo, D.O., FOCOO, is an ear, nose and throat specialist in Crystal River. Call him at 352-795-0011 or visit CrystalCommunityENT.com.