The benefit of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) treatment following ischemic stroke in patients with obstructive sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is unclear. We set out to investigate this open question in a randomized controlled trial as part of the SAS-CARE study.
Non-sleepy patients (ESS < 10) with ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) and obstructive SDB (AHI ≥ 20) 3 months post-stroke were randomized 1:1 to CPAP treatment (CPAP+) or standard care. Primary outcome was the occurrence of vascular events (TIA/stroke, myocardial infarction/revascularization, hospitalization for heart failure or unstable angina) or death within 24 months post-stroke. Secondary outcomes included Modified Rankin Scale (mRS) and Barthel Index.
Among 238 SAS-CARE patients 41 (17%) non-sleepy obstructive SDB patients were randomized to CPAP (n = 19) or standard care (n = 22). Most patients (80%) had stroke and were males (78%), mean age was 64 ± 7 years and mean NIHSS score 0.6 ± 1.0 (range: 0-5). The primary endpoint was met by one patient in the standard care arm (a new stroke). In an intent-to treat analysis disregarding adherence, this corresponds to an absolute risk difference of 4.5% or an NNT = 22. mRS and Barthel Index were stable and similar between arms. CPAP adherence was sufficient in 60% of evaluable patients at month 24.
No benefit of CPAP started three months post-stroke was found in terms of new cardio- and cerebrovascular events over 2 years. This may be related to the small size of this study, the mild stoke severity, the exclusion of sleepy patients, the delayed start of treatment, and the overall low event rate.

© 2020 The Authors.