According to a study conducted by researchers from Texas, sleep apnea, a breathing disorder, can lead to impaired cerebral blood vessels as quick as 30 days after onset of symptoms.
Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder characterized by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep. There are three types of sleep apnea, obstructive form , central form, and mixed form. It should be noted that such episodes last 10 seconds each, and the number of periods of apnea varies from 5 to 50 per hour of sleep. Depending on the severity of sleep apnea, it can be mild, moderate or severe. In terms of obstructive sleep apnea, there are several causes such as obesity, tonsilar hypertrophy , scoliosis, alcohol consumption etc. Patients with sleep apnea snore, present a restless sleep, daytime sleepiness, irritability and decreased concentration. Also, due to decreased oxygenation during sleep, morning headache frequently occurs.
The mechanism underlying sleep apnea consists of airway collapse, which translates to snoring followed by periods of apnea. The patient wakes up from sleep, falls asleep again and the episode occurs again dozens of times each night. Cessation of breathing causes decreased oxygen and increased carbon dioxide in the blood stream. Decreased oxygen leads to nervous system and cardiovascular overload. Gradually patients may develop coronary artery disease, hypertension and other complications. Therefore, effects of sleep apnea can be very serious. According to Mr. Crossland ”OSA Can have a detrimental impact on a person’s body and off their life. It is a Serious, yet treatable, disorder should not be taken that lightly”.
Although the link between sleep apnea and stroke has been established, the consequences of episodes of apnea on cerebral circulation has not been documented. Therefore, researchers in Texas have developed an animal model to study the effects on cerebral circulation. The researchers induced 30 episodes of apnea lasting 10 seconds, during an 8 hour sleep on laboratory animals. The experiment lasted one month. The interesting fact is they have found that after only 30 days, they were able to observe changes of the cerebral vessels. Dilatory function was reduced by 22%. Researcher Randy Crossland remarks that there are two important aspects of this experiment. The first is that based on these animal models scientists can study disease in more detail. The second is the observation made by researchers, namely that after 30 days of sleep apnea, changes in the cerebral vessels occur, which increases the risk of stroke.
Sleep apnea effects on average 1 in 5 Americans, but estimated that the incidence of this syndrome will increase. Also, be taken into account that some patients with sleep apnea have not been diagnosed.