People Who Struggle To Sleep Increase Heart Attack Risk By Up To 45 Per Cent

By on October 25, 2011

Insomnia and Heart AttackIt’s news that would keep people up at night – if they weren’t still awake. People who suffer from insomnia have a higher risk of having a heart attack, researchers say.

A recent study found people who struggled to nod off had up to a 45 per cent greater risk of heart problems than those who slept soundly.

‘Sleep problems are common and fairly easy to treat,’ said lead researcher Dr Lars Erik Laugsand from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

‘So it’s important that people are aware of this connection between insomnia and heart attack and talk to their doctor if they’re having symptoms.’

The study, reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, looked at heart risks related to three major insomnia symptoms compared to people who rarely or never had these problems.

The authors found those who had struggled to fall asleep almost daily in the last month had a 45 percent higher heart attack risk.

Those who had problems staying asleep almost every night in the last month had a 30 per cent higher heart attack risk.

Lastly people who didn’t wake up feeling refreshed in the morning more than once a week had a 27 per cent higher heart attack risk.

Heart attack risk also increases with each additional insomnia symptom, researchers said.

The study was based on 52,610 Norwegian adults who answered questions about insomnia as part of a national health survey in 1995-97.

Researchers examined hospital records and Norway’s National Cause of Death Registry to identify 2,368 people who had first-time heart attacks during the following 11 years.

The researchers used survival analysis to adjust for factors that could influence the results such as age, sex, marital status, education level, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, weight, exercise and shift work. They also considered depression and anxiety, both of which can cause insomnia.

Up to 33 percent of people in the general population experience at least one insomnia symptom, according to researchers.

Previous smaller studies have linked insomnia to heart disease, including high blood pressure and heart attacks. Each year in England, an estimated 111,000 people have a heart attack.

It’s unclear why insomnia is linked to higher heart attack risk. Some suggest sleep problems affect heart attack risk factors such as high blood pressure and inflammation.

Researchers didn’t adjust for obstructive sleep apnea, and results may not apply to Britons because their daylight hours and sleep patterns differ from Norwegians.

Source: Daily Mail

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