New Study Links Sleep Disorder and Stroke Risk

Individuals with probable rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (pRBD) have an increased risk of developing both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, according to a recent study.

The researchers included 12,003 participants from the Kailuan Study who were free from stroke, cancer, Parkinson disease, dementia, and head injury at baseline. A validated RBD questionnaire was used to identify participants with pRBD. Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) after adjusting for insomnia, daytime sleepiness, sleep duration, snoring, use of hypnotics, and other potential confounders.

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Overall, 159 cases of stroke occurred during 3 years of follow-up. The researchers observed a 157% higher risk of stroke in individuals with pRBD, relative to individuals without pRBD. Those with pRBD had an increased risk of both ischemic stroke (HR 1.93, CI 1.07-3.46) and hemorrhagic stroke (HR 6.61, CI 2.27-19.27).

“Presence of pRBD was associated with a higher risk of developing stroke, including both ischemic and hemorrhagic types. Future studies with clinically confirmed RBD and a longer follow-up would be appropriate to further investigate this association,” the researchers concluded.

—Michael Potts


Ma C, Pavlova M, Liu Y, et al. Probable REM sleep behavior disorder and risk of stroke [published online April 7, 2017]. doi:http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/​10.​1212/​WNL.​0000000000003902.