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Sleep Apnea Treatment Cuts Death Risk for Stroke Patients

Last Updated: July 01, 2009.

Continuous positive airway pressure treatment can reduce mortality risk in stroke patients with obstructive sleep apnea, according to a study in the July 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

WEDNESDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment can reduce mortality risk in stroke patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to a study in the July 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Miguel Angel Martinez-Garcia, M.D., of Requena General Hospital in Valencia, Spain, and colleagues conducted sleep studies on 166 patients who presented at the medical center with ischemic stroke during an 18-month period. To determine the presence of OSA, the subjects were rated on the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI). Thirty-one subjects had an AHI of less than 10, 39 had an AHI in the range 10 to 19, and 96 had an AHI of 20 or more. CPAP was offered to those subjects with an AHI of 20 or more. The study cohort was followed-up during outpatient treatment at one, three and six months, and then every six months for five years to determine the risk of mortality.

The researchers found that, among the patients with an AHI of 20 or more, those who could not tolerate CPAP treatment had a higher mortality rate (hazard ratio, 1.58) compared to those treated with CPAP. The CPAP-intolerant group also had a higher mortality rate (hazard ratio, 2.69) than the subjects with AHI of less than 20. For those treated with CPAP, there was no difference in mortality from untreated OSA patients with mild disease, and those without OSA.

"Our results suggest that long-term CPAP treatment in moderate to severe OSA and ischemic stroke is associated with a reduction in excess risk of mortality," the authors write.

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