Sleep-disordered breathing following acute stroke

QJM. 2002 Nov;95(11):741-7. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/95.11.741.


Background: The reported prevalence of sleep apnoea following stroke varies between 44% and 72%, but its course and relations are unclear.

Aim: To determine the prevalence and course of sleep-disordered breathing in acute stroke in-patients, and its relation to age, stroke subtype, pre-stroke handicap and post-stroke outcome.

Design: Prospective uncontrolled observational study.

Methods: Paired respiratory sleep studies were performed at week 2 and week 6-9 following stroke. Pre- and post-stroke handicap (modified Rankin Score) and week 2 and week 6-9 disability (Barthel Score) and impairment (Scandinavian Neurological Stroke Score) were assessed. Pre-stroke sleepiness was determined by Epworth Score.

Results: There were 68 patients in the week 2 study, and 50 in the week 6-8 study. Mean week 2 Apnoea Hypopnoea Index (AHI) was 30; 64 patients (94%) had an AHI > or =10. Mean AHI was higher in subjects with lacunar vs. cortical strokes (44 vs. 28, p<0.05), in subjects aged > or =65 years (32 vs. 21, p<0.05) and in those with greater pre-stroke handicap (modified Rankin Score 2 vs. <2) (41 vs. 27, p<0.05). In 50 paired studies, mean AHI fell from 31 to 24 (p<0.01) and the proportion with AHI > or =10 fell from 96% to 72%. Pre-stroke sleepiness was associated with post-stroke neurological impairment (r=-0.325, p<0.05) and disability (r=-0.377, p<0.05).

Discussion: Sleep-disordered breathing improves in the first 6-9 weeks following stroke, but remains highly prevalent. Worse sleep-disordered breathing was observed following lacunar stroke, and in older subjects or those with pre-stroke handicap.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • England / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / epidemiology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / etiology*
  • Stroke / complications*
  • Stroke / epidemiology