Too Little Sleep Increases Risk for Stroke and Heart Attack
While many studies have shown that certain physical and mental conditions can cause insomnia, subsequent studies have also demonstrated that insomnia can lead to a wide range of physical and mental disorders including obesity, high blood pressure, depression, and memory problems.
To this mounting evidence, new research shows that sleep problems can increase one’s risk for having a stroke or a heart attack. Dr. Chien-Yi Hsu at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital led a team of researchers to analyze a nationwide heath database involving 2 million people. After excluding participants with sleep apnea, depression, seizure disorder, anxiety, and substance abuse, the team identified about 11,000 people who suffered from insomnia, and more than 32,000 people who did not have the condition.
The researchers followed the participants for almost four years and found that 1.6% of the insomniacs experienced a heart attack while only 0.76% of normal sleepers experienced the cardiac event. They also found that 11.2% of insomniacs had a stroke and only 6.5% of normal sleepers experienced the condition.
Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, in Los Angeles states that issues like stress and high blood sugar levels can contribute to insomnia and increase heart attack risk. However, he does not believe that there is a need to treat insomnia aggressively to reduce the risk for heart disease, since a cause-and effect relationship has not been shown.
Dr. Aparajitha Verma, medical director of the Methodist Hospital Comprehensive Sleep Disorders Program, in Houston advises that people should make sleep a priority, since it can have a profound effect on heart health.
Gray, B. Insomnia May Raise Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke. HealthDay.