Stroke is one of the most significant cardiovascular risks of untreated sleep apnea. However, this doesn’t mean that the usefulness of sleep apnea treatment ends after a person has a stroke. Quite the opposite. Sleep apnea treatment can be just as important after a stroke as before. It can help people recover successfully following a stroke, helping them avoid death and permanent brain damage.
At the Center for TMJ & Sleep Apnea, our Lee’s Summit sleep dentists can help you get the best results from your treatment.
Stroke Risk and Sleep Apnea
A stroke occurs when there’s a blockage of the blood vessels in the brain. Most often, this is what is called an ischemic stroke. In an Ischemic stroke, material breaks off from arterial plaque, then travels to the brain, where it blocks your blood vessels.
People with sleep apnea are at an elevated risk for stroke. Some studies suggest that obstructive sleep apnea can increase your stroke risk by a factor of 2-3 times.
The consequences of stroke can include death and permanent loss of brain function. However, it is also highly possible to recover from a stroke with little or no permanent damage. To maximize your odds of a good recovery from a stroke, it’s important to be tested for and treated for sleep apnea.
If you suspect sleep apnea, it’s important to get tested for the condition. If you want a convenient, comfortable, effective sleep apnea treatment, talk to a Lee’s Summit sleep dentist.
The Impact of Sleep Apnea After Stroke
Because sleep apnea increases a person’s risk of stroke, it should come as no surprise that people who have suffered a stroke are likely to have sleep apnea. Some studies suggest that nearly three-quarters (72%) of people who suffer a stroke or a mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack, TIA) have sleep apnea.
If you have sleep apnea after a stroke, you are at risk for numerous complications. First, your risk of having another stroke increases. In addition, sleep apnea can increase your risk of death after your first stroke. One study showed that each additional pause in breathing per hour increased the risk of recurrent stroke or death by 9%.
Finally, sleep apnea can increase your risk of post-stroke depression. Post-stroke depression not only leads to poor quality of life after stroke, but it can also lead to additional complications, too. People with post-stroke depression are more likely to have a poor recovery. Plus, they are more likely to suffer additional strokes and more likely to die.
The combined effect of sleep apnea is that people are likely to have a lower functional capacity after a stroke, and they will likely spend more time in recovery.
Treating Sleep Apnea after Stroke
Since we know that sleep apnea after stroke can lead to significant complications, we know it’s important to treat it. The challenge is: how?
Of course, the first answer of many doctors is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). The evidence suggests that CPAP works. It can improve cognition, neurological function, depression, and quality of life.
But there’s a problem. As with all applications of CPAP, many stroke sufferers find it difficult to comply with CPAP. Even when studies are just a few weeks, a few days, or even one day, compliance with CPAP recommendations can be low. In at least half of the studies, the average user doesn’t meet the recommended four hours of use per night. In one study, people used their CPAP machines for an average of fewer than 90 minutes a night.
We can’t just give up on stroke patients because CPAP fails them. It’s important to give them treatment options that can help them treat their sleep apnea and enjoy benefits like better mood, better recovery, and improved cognitive function.
CPAP Alternatives in Lee’s Summit
If you have sleep apnea and your doctor’s prescribed CPAP, but you can’t adapt to it, don’t give up. There are measurable benefits of treating sleep apnea, benefits that can improve not just the length of your life but the quality of your life, too. It all starts with deep, restful sleep.
There are more ways to treat sleep apnea than CPAP. For many people, CPAP alternatives like oral appliances from a Lee’s Summit sleep dentist may work better. Oral appliances are easier to use, which leads to better compliance rates.
The best sleep apnea treatment for you is the one that you will use. Oral appliances can effectively treat mild to moderate sleep apnea. They are considered a front-line treatment for this condition. This means you can use them right away–you don’t have to try CPAP first. Oral appliances can also improve severe sleep apnea. However, they’re not considered a frontline treatment for this level of apnea. It’s often recommended that you try CPAP first.
To learn whether you’re a good candidate for oral appliance therapy and other CPAP alternatives in Lee’s Summit, please call (816) 795-1000 or use our online contact form to request an appointment at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center today.