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Sleep Problems Cause Stroke Risk Among Elderly

Update Date: Jan 19, 2016 12:08 PM EST

Everyone loves to sleep, but the lack of it does more than make you grouchy. It can expose you to a strong risk of getting a stroke, especially if you are elderly.

A new study published in Stroke  discovered that fragmented sleep, or rest in which a person gets repeatedly woken up, can deprive the brain of oxygen, which increases the risk of getting a stroke.

"The forms of brain injury that we observed are important because they may not only contribute to the risk of stroke but also to chronic progressive cognitive and motor impairment," said Dr. Andrew Lim, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Toronto, in a news release.

Researchers studied the brains of 315 people around the age of 90, whose sleep had been autopsied and monitored for seven days round the clock. They tried to check the quality, and also the circadian rhythms, according to scienceworldreport.

Strangely, researchers found 61 percent of individuals' brains in the study showing moderate to severe signs of blood vessel damage, even as another 29 percent revealed stroke signs.

Those whose sleep was fragmented had 27 percent bigger risk of severe arteriosclerosis, or fats, cholesterol and other substances collecting on artery walls.

However, it is not clear whether sleep problems cause brain damage or whether it is the other way round.

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