A large study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that starting treatment for sleep apnea as early as possible after a stroke or a mini-stroke significantly improves recovery and clinical outcome.
According to the lead author, Dawn Bravata, MD, “We have shown, for the first time in a randomized controlled study, that for individuals who have had a stroke or a TIA—a transient ischemic attack, also known as a mini-stroke— the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea with CPAP therapy provides significant benefits, even greater than the benefits of tPA [tissue plasminogen activator], the FDA-approved drug treatment for stroke.”
The study followed 252 individuals who had strokes or TIAs for up to one year after the event. Two-thirds of the study participants were effectively using CPAP therapy for sleep apnea. Preliminary data suggests that the earlier sleep apnea was treated in stroke patients, the more potent the effect of that treatment.