Sleep and Health – The Connection Between Sleep and Stroke!
Sleep and Health | Could You Be at Risk for a Stroke?
May is National Stroke Awareness month. More than 795 000 Americans suffer a stroke each year, 140 000 of those who do will die. That’s one person every four
minutes in the United States dies due to having a stroke. Every 40 seconds another person suffers from one. More than 2/3 of patients suffer from a disability of
some type related to their stroke. It’s one of the leading long-term disability causes. A stroke can change the lives of an entire family in less than a minute. The
physical, psychological and financial impact can be devastating as everyone faces a new and frightening reality in the years to come. There are many risk factors,
symptoms and signs of stroke that most people don’t know. In fact, one survey found more than 60% of those asked didn’t know all the warning signs of having a stroke.
Sleep and Health – Snoring
Did you know that snoring could mean you’re almost 4 times more likely to suffer from a stroke? Keep reading to learn more about strokes and what you can do if
you do snore to lower your risk of having one.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted and brain cells are damaged by the resulting lack of oxygen.
This can happen to anyone of any age. There are three types of Stroke:
Ischemic Stroke- A blood clot blocks a blood vessel to the brain. Approximately 87% of all strokes are Ischemic in nature. There are two forms of ischemic stroke :
Embolic– when a piece of plaque or a blood clot travels from another part of the body through the bloodstream until it lodges in a blood vessel to small to pass through. 15% of those who suffer from an embolic ischemic stroke have Atrial Fibrillation.
Thrombotic– this occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery that supplies blood to the brain. Large vessel thrombosis often occurs in those suffering from high cholesterol. Small vessel thrombosis is most common in those with high blood pressure.
Hemorrhagic strokes account for only 15% of all strokes. They have a higher rate of mortality with approximately 40% of strokes leading to death being hemorrhagic.
Intercerebral hemorrhage– a blood vessel within the brain breaks leading to blood seeping into the surrounding brain tissue causing cells to die.
Subarachnoid hemorrhage– the majority of this type of stroke are caused by a burst aneurysm which leads to bleeding between the brain and the tissue covering it. Subarachnoid hemorrhage may also be caused by use of blood thinners, head injury, AVM (arteriovenous malformation) or a bleeding disorder.
Transient Ischemic Attack
TIAs are often referred to as mini-strokes. These are caused by a temporary blockage of blood vessels leading to a short period of symptoms that present as a stroke
but disappear within 24 hours. TIAs don’t usually cause long-lasting disability but are a serious warning sign that you’re at risk of a more serious brain attack in the
future. 40% of people who suffer from a TIA have an actual stroke in the future.
Sleep and Health – Signs of Stroke
The American Heart and Stroke association suggests using the FAST acronym to recognize when someone is having a stroke.
F- Face drooping. Experiencing numbness or drooping on one side of the face. When the person attempts to smile and their smile is uneven and drooping on one side this is a sign for concern.
A- Arm weakness. Ask the individual to raise both arms. When one arm drifts down or is weak and numb there is cause for alarm.
S- Speech difficulty. Slurred, slow or incoherent speech is another warning sign of stroke.
T- Time for Emergency. If the above symptoms are noticed in someone it’s time to call 911.
It’s critical that emergency medical treatment is sought as quickly as possible. Any delay could lead to serious consequences and greater risk of prolonged disability or death.
More Signs of Stroke
While FAST is a great assessment tool to determine a stroke emergency there are other signs to look for.
- A severe headache
- sudden weakness in extremities
- slurred or incoherent speech
- confusion, lack of balance
- uneven tongue when stuck out
If any of these symptoms are noticed it’s imperative that you seek medical attention as quickly as possible. The quicker treatment can be administered, the better chance
for a positive outcome. Suffering a stroke can and will change a person physically and emotionally. This may be short-term or permanently. There are many
supports and resources available for patients and families dealing with the aftermath of a stroke. The best steps you can take is to be proactive in preventing a stroke
and lowering the risk factors before ever having one. This is particularly important if a loved one or you do snore.
Sleep and Health – Sleep Disorders and The Risk of Stroke
Nearly 40% of cerebrovascular accidents occur while asleep or within the first hour awake. This isn’t a coincidence. There’s a strong link between if you do snore and your
risk for stroke. Individuals with sleep apnea are three times more likely to have a stroke or die than others of the same age. This is true even when compared to peers with
other risk factors for stroke. Approximately 10% of Americans suffer from severe sleep apnea which leads to increased risk of stroke and other potentially life-threatening
illnesses. A very small percentage of those with the condition seek and receive proper treatment. A CPAP machine with a properly fitting mask can reduce snoring and
increase oxygen levels allowing for both better sleep and health as well as lowering the risk of stroke.
If You Snore You’re Not Alone
90 million Americans are affected by snoring with 37 million dealing with it on a regular basis. This can cause a myriad of health issues and lead to difficulties in every area
of your life. 50-70 million Americans suffer from sleeping disorders that can lead to higher risk of stroke and other serious and potentially fatal medical conditions.
When a health professional asks, “Do you snore?” It’s not something to get embarrassed about and hide because discussing it and seeking treatment could save your life.
If You Do Snore – Seek Help
You don’t have to live a sleep-deprived life. You can lower your risk of serious complications from a sleep disorder by seeking professional help. It’s not just your REM sleep
you have to worry about. Many people believe that REM is the only sleep cycle that is of consequence to your health. Every phase and stage of each cycle is critical to having
optimal health. There are several different sleep assessment tools that the healthcare industry uses to diagnose sleep disorders and related medical conditions. Many
clinics have inpatient sleep studies to diagnose sleep apnea and other sleep and health disorders. This allows them to observe and monitor a person’s sleep. They will
often place electrodes on someone to gather information about brain activity, breathing and other vital health information to be able to give a proper diagnosis.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
If you do snore, it’s possible you suffer from sleep apnea. This is a condition where your airways become blocked or restricted during sleep, causing you to momentarily
be unable to breathe normally. This condition can cause your oxygen levels to deteriorate and lead to serious health conditions such as cognitive or behavior disorders,
heart attack, diabetes, stroke, even cancer. There are signs that can indicate that sleep apnea may be the reason you do snore. These include:
- apnea events leading to absent or reduced breathing
- loud and frequent snoring, sporadic or labored breathing
- extreme fatigue
- lack of attention or reduced ability to concentrate
- reduced motor, verbal and visual skills
- lowered libido and sexual dysfunction
- frequent headaches
- frequently waking through the night
- frequent nocturnal urination
Sleep apnea can affect and present differently in men than for women and children. It’s more common for women to complain of mental fatigue, depression, insomnia,
headaches, and anxiety due to sleep apnea. Children may present with heightened emotional and behavioral difficulties, asthma complications, frequent bed wetting
and learning or academic issues.
Sleep and Health – Diabetes
People with diabetes have a higher risk of stroke and dying because of a stroke than the general population. Sleep disorders
can increase your risk of diabetes. This is because our bodies self-regulate glucose metabolism while we’re sleeping. Losing
sleep means our metabolism is thrown out of whack. This can lead to increased insulin sensitivity, decreased glucose
tolerance and weight gain. If you do snore you’re more likely to wake several times through the night, have disrupted sleep
cycles and have increased the risk for diabetes. These metabolism disruptions can also lead to mental and mood issues.
Strokes, Obesity and Sleep Disorders
There has long been an established connection between obesity and the risk of stroke. There’s a strong association between sleep disorders and obesity. This too can
go both ways. If you do snore you are more likely to gain weight and have a slower metabolism. As your weight increases, there’s more chance that you do snore and
have conditions like obstructive sleep apnea. If you do snore and are coping with obesity you have increased the risk of several other health complications. You’re
chances of developing a heart condition, diabetes, mental health issues are all increased. You will also be at greater risk for stroke as your weight gets higher and sleep
disorder gets worse.
Sleep and Overall Risk of Stroke
If you do snore because of a sleep disorder your overall health is suffering. Each aspect of your life that’s affected by your sleep issues can increase your risk of stroke.
The risk factors for stroke include:
- Carotid artery disease
- high blood pressure and high cholesterol
- obesity and inactivity
- heart conditions such as A-fib, irregular heartbeat, etc.
- Transient Ischemic Attacks
- sleep apnea
Undiagnosed or improperly treated sleep disorders increase your risk of each of the above conditions. That, in turn, increases your overall risk of having a stroke.
Sleep and Health – Lowering Your Risks
There are several things you can do if you do snore or suffer from a sleep disorder. Making a few changes to your sleep and health can lower your risk of stroke and other
serious medical conditions. Turning off electronics, having a regular nighttime ritual and having warm drinks before heading to bed can help you fall asleep faster.
Changing your pillow, bed or the position you sleep in can help if you do snore. These are solutions for the occasional snorer or one who doesn’t have more serious
conditions like sleep apnea. There are many products to treat and manage obstructive sleep apnea and to improve both your sleep and health. Check out this blog
post on effective treatments to help you get a good night’s sleep.