Add poor sleep to the numerous lingering effects of strokes and/or mini-strokes. According to a new study published by the American Heart Association, conditions include insomnia, troubled breathing while asleep, restless legs in the evening, and unconscious leg movements – all deemed “common” among stroke survivors. Researchers found sleep problems were more likely to occur among women, smokers, people with other health conditions, and those who have strokes at older ages.
“When poor sleep occurs, patients may also experience cognitive deficits such as declined concentration or working memory,” said the study’s lead author, Hsiao-Yean Chiu, associate professor and deputy director of the School of Nursing at Taipei Medical University in Taiwan in Heart.org.
Because of the many issues associated with poor sleep, Chiu advised doctors to perform sleep studies or exams on stroke patients and treat any sleep issues that arise. “In the United States, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds, according to the CDC,” writes Laura Williamson. “About 12% of those who have full-blown strokes first experience transient ischemic attacks or TIAs, also known as ‘mini-strokes’ or ‘warning strokes.’ These cause temporary symptoms, such as weakness, slurred speech, and dizziness that disappear within 24 hours.”
Sleep problems such as sleep apnea are considered independent risk factors for stroke. The AHA recommends assessing sleep issues to prevent further strokes and TIAs. “In the new review, researchers analyzed 185 studies of sleep disorders among stroke survivors, covering 64,047 people experiencing interrupted or shallow breathing during sleep, insomnia, periodic leg movement and restless leg syndrome,” Williamson writes. “They found that people who had strokes or mini-strokes had a higher prevalence than the general public of these conditions long after the stroke occurred.”