A study reported in the May issue of Stroke identifies age as the sole risk factor for the cause of death from stroke, conflicting with recently issued guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA) and a division of the association, the American Stroke Association (ASA).
The AHA/ASA guidelines contain new recommendations including identifying sleep apnea as a potentially modifiable risk factor, essentially stating that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with increased risk of stroke. Despite the guidelines, researcher Claudio L. Bassetti, MD, PhD, of Poliklinik, Zurich, and his colleagues state that their analysis finds just one factor raised the risk of death after a stroke—older age.
Although the issue continues to be debated, the AHA/ASA suggests that clinicians question patients (especially those that show signs of hypertension and abdominal obesity) and their bed partners about OSA and other sleep disorders. They also propose that people who suspect that they have sleep disordered breathing problems should undergo an evaluation by a specialist.
Risk factors for stroke that were noted in the AHA/ASA guidelines include the following:
Non-modifiable risk factors
African American descent
Male gender
Family history of stroke
Low birth weight
Modifiable risk Factors
High blood pressure
Exposure to second-hand smoke
Low physical activity level
Potentially modifiable risk factors
Metabolic syndrome
Alcohol use
Illicit drug use
Use of oral contraceptives in women who smoke
Sleep apnea