Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can Sleep Apnea lead to a stroke, and if so how?"
I am 37 years old and I have been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea. I've been using the CPAP machine for almost 2 years now. Its only been recently that I've gotten used to it, and the machine is working the way it supposed to. For over a year I took the mask off and adjusted the machine in my "sleep". I am also now aware of myself waking up every 10 minutes or so when I fall asleep without the mask on. However, I believe that I may have suffered from a small stroke or something because I have been experiencing memory problems as well as concentration and learning problems in school and at work. What is the best way to tell if I suffered from a stroke/s in my sleep?
For these symptoms, I would suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that results in difficulty breathing while sleeping. It is a condition that has been associated with high blood pressure which is a common cause of heart disease and is also associated with stroke. So in that sense, obstructive sleep apnea is associated with stroke in that it can raise your blood pressure. If you are using your CPAP machine religiously and your blood pressure has been checked recently and is normal, then I would not be able to associate obstructive sleep apnea specifically with a stroke in your case. I should also say that your specific symptoms of having memory problems, problems with concentration, and learning problems are not really specific to stroke. Usually stroke has some other physical symptoms such as weakness or numbness in a specific part of the body. Again, I would suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. Your primary care doctor will listen to your symptoms and decide what additional testing is needed. If your doctor is at all concerned about the possibility of a stroke, then he or she might order a brain MRI. This is a test of choice to see if any past or current strokes are currently present. Once a stroke is ruled out, then your doctor can start looking for other causes to your symptoms. In addition, you can make sure that your blood pressure is under control and this will help prevent strokes in the future.
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