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J Neurol. 2013 May;260(5):1343-50. doi: 10.1007/s00415-012-6803-0. Epub 2012 Dec 23.

Early sleep apnea screening on a stroke unit is feasible in patients with acute cerebral ischemia.

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Department of Neurology, Dresden University Stroke Center, University of Technology Dresden, Fetscherstrasse 74, 01307 Dresden, Germany.


Early screening for sleep apnea (SA) is rarely considered in patients with acute cerebral ischemia. We aimed to evaluate the feasibility of early SA screening on a stroke unit, its impact on post-discharge SA care and the relation of SA to clinical features. Patients with acute ischemic stroke (AIS) and transient ischemic attack (TIA) prospectively underwent overnight cardiorespiratory polygraphy within 3 ± 2 days of symptom-onset. Feasibility was defined as analyzable polygraphy in 90 % of studied patients. We enrolled 61 patients (84 % AIS, 16 % TIA): mean age 66 ± 8 years, 44 % men, median NIHSS 1 (0-15), median ESS 5 (0-13). Analyzability was given in 56/61 (91.8 %; one-sided 95 % CI, lower-bound 86.0 %) patients indicating excellent feasibility of early SA screening with no significant differences in stroke severity (100 % in TIA, 91 % minor stroke, 83 % major stroke, p = 0.474). Ninety-one percent (51/56) had an apnea-hypopnea index ≥ 5/h (median: 20/h [0-79]); 32 % (18/56) mild, 30 % (17/56) moderate, and 29 % (16/56) severe SA. When comparing sleep-related ischemic stroke (SIS) and non-SIS patients, no differences were found regarding the presence (95 vs. 89 %, p = 0.49) or severity (e.g., severe SA: 32 vs. 27 %, p = 0.69) of SA. After 12 months, 27/38 (71 %) patients given specific recommendations completed in-laboratory sleep work-up and 7/27 (25 %) were prescribed for non-invasive ventilatory correction. In conclusion, early SA screening is feasible in patients with acute cerebral ischemia and may have a positive impact on post-discharge SA care. Given the high frequency and atypical presentation of SA, early screening for SA should be considered in all acute cerebral ischemia patients.

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