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Severe Sleep Apnea Called Stroke Risk in Elderly: Page 2 of 2

Severe Sleep Apnea Called Stroke Risk in Elderly: Page 2 of 2

Among other potential weaknesses of the study, the researchers wrote, would be the possibility of underestimating the incidence of fatal stroke, because often old people are found dead at home and are not admitted to a hospital.

Also, the participants who completed both phases of the study (interview and overnight sleep measurements) differed from the larger group that completed only the earlier phase. For this reason the final cohort may not have been fully representative, they said.

"Sleep apnea is two to three times more common in the elderly compared with middle-aged people, Dr. Munoz said. However, typical symptoms, such as loud snoring or excessive daytime sleepiness, are less common among the elderly compared with middle-aged people.

Yet "we should be aware of these symptoms and look for repetitive breathing pauses in our patients and relatives," he said.

The incidence of stroke increases with age, and 75% of strokes occur in the elderly, the investigators said. With the increasing life expectancy, this proportion is likely to rise. In this study, contrary to previous suggestions that obstructive sleep apnea hypopnea lacks relevance in advanced ages, this study has found that it represents a risk factor for stroke in the elderly.

"We believe that a randomized trial designed to investigate the influence of CPAP therapy on stroke is required to complete the demonstration of a causative relationship," Dr. Munoz said.


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