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Poor Sleep

Poor Sleep Patterns Could Raise Stroke Risk

By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

Investigators recently reported patients who experience poor sleep could be at higher risk for stroke.

The authors used data from the INTERSTROKE study to assess sleep patterns via questionnaire. There were 4,496 matched participants included in this work — with 1,799 participants who had experienced an ischemic stroke and 439 who had experienced an intracerebral hemorrhage.

Questionnaires revealed many types of sleep problems respondents experienced over the previous month: short sleep (shorter than five hours per night, on average), long sleep (longer than nine hours per night, on average), impaired sleep quality, difficulty going to sleep, difficulty staying asleep, unplanned napping, long naps (longer than one hour), snoring, snorting, and breathing cessation. All these were significantly associated with higher odds of acute stroke in the authors’ primary analysis model, in which the authors adjusted for age, occupation, marital status, and modified Rankin Scale at baseline.

There were 162 participants who slept less than five hours and experienced a stroke; 151 who experienced a stroke slept more than nine hours a night. Researchers reported respondents who slept less than five hours per night were three times more likely to experience a stroke than those who slept seven hours a night. Those who slept more than nine hours were more than two times as likely to experience a stroke.

Long nappers were 88% more likely to experience a stroke vs. those who did not. Respondents who snored were 91% more likely to experience a stroke than those who did not (snorting and apnea both were associated with much higher stroke risk).

After adjusting again for other risk factors, such as such as smoking, physical activity, depression, and alcohol consumption, the authors noted similar results.

“Not only do our results suggest that individual sleep problems may increase a person’s risk of stroke, but having more than five of these symptoms may lead to five times the risk of stroke compared to those who do not have any sleep problems,” said study author Christine McCarthy, MB, BCh, BAO, of the University of Galway in Ireland. “With these results, doctors could have earlier conversations with people who are having sleep problems. Interventions to improve sleep may also reduce the risk of stroke and should be the subject of future research.”

For more on this and related subjects, be sure to read the latest issues of Neurology Alert.