Sleep Apnea and the Stroke Belt

A new report on stroke mortality confirms that seven southern states continue to told the title of having this highest stroke risk in the country, up to 50% higher in some states compared to the rest of the country. These states are: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The study authors also added, "Our results cannot pinpoint a specific explanation, but they are consistent with other research suggesting that the roots of stroke risk begin in childhood or even infancy,"


If you’ve been following this blog or read my book, Sleep, Interrupted, you’ll remember that having obstructive sleep apnea increases your risk of stroke by 50% or more. I’ve also stated that sleep apnea is not something that suddenly develops when you’re in your 60s and 70s. The risk factors for sleep apnea begin when you’re an infant. Your upper airway anatomy determines your risk for sleep apnea later in life. This is also when cardiovascular risk factors are first established. 


If you look at obesity rates in the deep south, they’re some of the highest in the country. So is depression and ADHD, which all happen to be strongly linked with obstructive sleep apnea. If you were born in one of these states and eventually move to another state later in life, your stroke risk remains increased.


Interestingly, residency in these states had little association with conventional stroke risk factors, social resources, or access to medical care.


What’s your take on this interesting finding? Please enter your thoughts in the comments box below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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One thought on “Sleep Apnea and the Stroke Belt

  1. Saturday, December 12, 2009 10:30 AM

    Knowing that each of these appliances are made to make the jaw go forward now lets see which of these devices do this job comfortably, if the device is not comfortable the patient won’t wear it! All these devices have to take a bite which way is accurate. One of the properties that the device needs is to be retentive in the mouth. The other property that these devices should have is let the jaw move in it’s own bio-mechanical (unique) position. A large percentage of patients I work with are very aggravated lack of sleep. The only time the jaw really needs to be in the most forward position is when you reach REM sleep when you are in your most relaxed sleep. Look at my patented device, I have been working on since 1999. The SomnoDent or SomnoMed are fixed (not moveable in all rotational movements, when clenching). My device can go in the most forward position at first bite because of retrusive movement, which all the other devices don’t have.
    Please consider looking at my 7min viedo on
    Thank You
    John Felldin
    I herd your talk with Dr. David Lawler.