Brain Injury And Obstructive Sleep Apnea


I recently came across a study what showed that people who suffer from strokes have much more difficulty recovering brain function if they have obstructive sleep apnea. This makes total sense. Once you have brain damage of any type, having chronic hypoxia and blood stagnation can definitely prevent proper healing. This study assumed that only some people who have strokes have obstructive sleep apnea, but numerous studies show that the vast majority of stoke patients have undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea. We also know that having obstructive sleep apnea significantly increases your chances of having a stroke by up to 300%. 

With recent increased awareness of traumatic brain injury in football players as well as in returning war veterans, it's important to at least screen for undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea with both of these groups for people, early, rather than after the damage is done. Knowing that about 1/4 of all men will have at least mild sleep apnea, looking for and treating an underling sleep apnea condition can improve recovery after any form of brain injury, not to mention prevention of further brain injury and impairment. 

What years of do think about my theory? Is it plausible, or am I just over-hyping sleep apnea?

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One thought on “Brain Injury And Obstructive Sleep Apnea

  1. I think it makes sense.  CNS depressive drugs can worsen/cause obstructive sleep patterns in individuals, so it doesn't seem far off that any insult or injury to the brain could potentially affect airway muscle tone.  
    It seems reasonable that OSA induced hypoxic episodes could have an elevated effect with someone who has had brain insult/injury.
    Screening early and implementing preventative therapy (CPAP), doesn't seem to me like over-hyping sleep apnea :-)