Diagnosed or undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea in a person may raise the mortality rates in stroke victims.
Lead researcher Dr Latha Stead, professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Centre, has found that patients were at higher risk of death within the first month following the stroke.
"We know that obstructive sleep apnea has been linked to a multitude of cardiovascular problems, yet it is concerning that the vast majority of cases remain undiagnosed," Stead said.
"In the context of recovering from a stroke, sleep apnea can have a serious impact, and for that reason we encourage people to become more aware of obstructive sleep apnea and to get treatment," she added.
During the study, the researchers looked at 174 patients who were diagnosed with an acute ischemic stroke.
They found that 60 percent were at high risk of sleep apnea, seven patients had a previous diagnosis of sleep apnea, and those seven patients had a higher risk of death within the first month following the stroke.
The researchers also found that high risk of obstructive sleep apnea was a predictor of having a worse outcome.
Stroke patients with diagnosed or undiagnosed sleep apnea were also more disabled at the point of discharge from the hospital.
"The next step," she said, "is to begin routine screening for obstructive sleep apnea as part of the emergency department evaluation of stroke patients."