Why is sleep apnea a risk factor for stroke?

This question was asked in Jones, Michigan on .
My husband is 54, diabetic, overweight and we think he has sleep apnea. What added risk factors will he have for sleep apnea because of his diabetes and weight? I read that stroke could be a possible risk factor but I don't understand how that relates to his sleep.

Doctors Answers (2)

Robert C. Jones, M.D.
Answered on: 6/13/2013

Sleep apnea can cause hypertension and aid in the development of atrial fibrillation. The spikes in blood pressure and drops in oxygen level during apnea events are what can lead to congestive heart failure, heart attacks and stroke! With treatment those risks are greatly reduced. He should be evaluated by a Board Certified Sleep Medicine Specialist.

Vector Sleep Diagnostics Center
Answered on: 6/13/2013

It is a great question because sleep apnea results not only in immediate symptoms such as snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness and poor sleep but also has long term consequences. This includes but is not limited to heart disease, hypertension, mood disorders and stroke is on that list. Interestingly treated sleep apnea results in better sugar control in diabetes and better blood pressure control in hypertension. In brief, stroke frequently results from a blockage in a blood vessel that limits blood circulation to the brain. This blockage can be due to build up of a atherosclerotic plaque. So better blood pressure control, better sugar control and better oxygenation (blood circulation) prevents strokes by reducing atherosclerosis in blood vessels. In sleep apnea, cessation of breathing results in a further drop in blood circulation that is already affected by other factors. I hope this answers your question. Best of luck to you and your husband.