Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is an independent risk factor for stroke. Furthermore, intracranial carotid artery calcification (ICAC) is a marker for subclinical atherosclerosis and future cardiovascular events. We investigated the association between the high risk for OSA and ICAC in patients with acute ischemic stroke.
We retrospectively investigated 73 patients who were admitted to the hospital with acute ischemic stroke in the internal carotid artery (ICA) territory due to large-artery atherosclerosis. The risk for OSA was assessed using the Berlin Questionnaire, and patients were classified into low-risk (LR-OSA) and high-risk groups (HR-OSA). We compared the burden of ICAC between the two groups. Univariable and multivariable analyses were conducted to investigate the association of high risk for OSA with the presence of calcium in intracranial ICA.
The HR-OSA group of 35 patients (48%) was significantly older and had a higher rate of hypertension and diabetes mellitus than the LR-OSA group. The HR-OSA group had more frequent ICAC (92% vs. 63%, p < 0.001), higher Agatston score (162.0 vs. 8.5, p < 0.001), and greater total volume of ICAC (261.2 mm vs. 20.1 mm, p < 0.001) in the intracranial ICA. Presence of calcium in symptomatic intracranial ICA was positively correlated with age (odds ratio, OR, 1.432; 95% confidence interval, CI, 1.098-1.868) and HR-OSA (OR, 18.272; 95% CI, 0.500-668.401) in multivariable logistic regression analysis.
This study showed that the presence of calcium in symptomatic intracranial ICA was related to high risk for OSA in patients with acute ischemic stroke.