Silent Strokes & Small Brain Lesions

A study done at Germany’s Dresden University Stroke Center showed that patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may experience an increased risk for silent stroke and small white matter lesions in the brain.

Severe OSA patients experience pauses in breathing more that 30 times per hour on average and the length of time of the pauses is 10 seconds or longer.  And the pauses occur when the air has been breathed OUT, not IN!  Try to breath all your air out and hold it there for over 10 seconds.  See how hard that is!  30 times per hour is every 2 minutes and the average event is around 20 seconds.  That’s 10 minutes without air every hour.

This was a small study and Jessica Kepplinger, MD, the lead researcher said, “Sleep apnea is widely unrecognized and still neglected.  Patients who had severe sleep apnea were more likely to have silent strokes and the severity of sleep apnea increased the risk of being disabled at hospital discharge.”  Roughly 90% of people that have OSA do not even know that they have it.  You may be one of those people.

Testing for OSA is very easy and the condition is treatable.  You can find information on our website at

The team of researchers discovered that over 90% of the stroke patients in the study had OSA.  They had a higher rate of silent stroke and white brain matter lesions.  These strokes and lesions were associated with increased risk of disability when they were discharged from the hospital.  They also found that over 30% of those patients who had white matter lesions also had severe OSA.  And over 50% of those silent stroke patients also had OSA.

The researchers who did the study suggested that OSA should be treated on par with other risk factors like high blood pressure, etc.

Remember, OSA is treatable.  Make an appointment for a free consultation to discuss your questions and see the treatment options that are available as well as how you can find out if you have OSA.  Call our office at 208-667-4551.