February 23, 2008
Daytime Dozing Elderly Stroke Risk Factor

But the dozing might just be a proxy for sleep apnea.

Regular daytime dozing forewarns of a significantly increased risk of stroke in older Americans, researchers reported at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2008.

Stroke risk was two- to four-fold greater in those with moderate dozing. This suggests that daytime dozing “may be an important and novel stroke risk factor,” said Bernadette Boden-Albala, Ph.D., lead author of the study.

In this study, dozing refers to a person unintentionally falling asleep.

Among 2,153 participants in a prospective study with an average follow-up of 2.3 years, the risk of stroke was 2.6 times greater for those classified as doing “some dozing” compared to those with “no dozing.” Those in the “significant dozing” group had a 4.5 times higher risk.

“Those are significant numbers,” said Boden-Albala, an assistant professor of neurology at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. “We were surprised that the impact was that high for such a short period of time.”

Sleep scientists previously have found evidence that people who experience apnea, brief periods when breathing stops during sleep, have an increased stroke risk. Research indicates that daytime sleepiness can result from sleeping poorly because of nighttime apnea.

Maybe the sleep apnea causes a sleep deficit which causes cardiovascular damage. Or maybe an oxygen deficit all night long while repeatedly going into shallow breathing modes causes the damage.

Sleep apnea is linked to all sorts of diseases you want to avoid like heart disease and cognitve decline. Of the various risk factors for sleep apnea about the only one you can do something about is obesity (unless you want to get a sex change operation into being a female).

Getting a stroke is up there with brain cancer and Alzheimer's Disease on the list of Terrible Things That Happen To Our Brains In Old Age. Together they provide a very compelling reason why we should support more rapid development of rejuvenation treatments to reverse the aging process.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 February 23 03:16 PM  Aging Studies

Bob Badour said at February 23, 2008 4:51 PM:

I had an encounter with sleep apnea the past couple weeks. On tuesday, I had an appointment with the doctor to refill a low-dose beta blocker I take.

Even though the beta blocker will tend to reduce blood pressure, my blood pressure was extremely elevated. While the nurse didn't tell me the numbers, I could tell by watching the dial they were somewhere around 160 over 130 or 140, which is way up in stroke territory.

Sleep apnea increases blood pressure. High blood pressure increases sleep apnea. It's a vicious cycle.

Your article is incorrect that weight is the only risk factor one can control. Smokers can quit smoking. Taking a nighttime decongestant was enough to make the difference for me. Granted, I still need to lose the weight I gained recently that put me in range of sleep apnea.

doctorpat said at February 23, 2008 7:24 PM:

Sleep apnea sends blood pressure skyrocketing directly. Every time the breathing stops, the body gets a "fight or flight" response, sending pulse, blood pressure and stress homones shooting up.

With a bad case, (about 5-10% of the population over 40) this happends 10 to 30 times an hour.

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