Sleep Apnea and Stroke

Can J Cardiol. 2015 Jul;31(7):918-27. doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2015.03.014. Epub 2015 Mar 14.


Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide and often has devastating consequences for affected individuals in terms of chronic disability. Traditional risk factors such as age, male sex, ethnicity, hypertension, and atrial fibrillation explain 60%-80% of the risk of stroke. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is highly prevalent in individuals who have had a stroke and its emerging role as a potential modifiable risk factor for stroke has been recognized in the most recent American Heart Association stroke guidelines, which recommend consideration of screening for and treatment of OSA in this regard. In this article we provide an overview of the current evidence-based knowledge related to stroke and sleep apnea. The main focus of this article is key pathophysiological mechanisms by which OSA might increase the risk for stroke. The effect of OSA on stroke outcomes and the efficacy of treatment of OSA on these outcomes is also discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications*
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Stroke / etiology*