Sleepless Nights May Increase Heart Risk

Insomina could moderately increase the risk of heart attack

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Sleepless nights may be doing more than leaving you fatigued the next day. They might also be increasing your risk of suffering a heart attack.

Individuals suffering from insomnia have a heart attack risk that is up to 45 percent higher than those who don't have trouble sleeping.

"Talk to your family doctor if you have problems sleeping."

Dr. Lars Erik Laugsand, the lead researcher and an internist from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology Department of Public Health, noted that sleep problem are common and fairly easy to treat, making it important that individuals are aware of the connection between insomnia and heart attack so they can talk to their doctor if they notice symptoms.

About a third of the general population suffers from at least one symptom of insomnia.

During the study, 52,610 Norwegian adults were asked questions about insomnia as art of a national health survey between 1995 and 1997. Researchers examined hospital records and Norway's National Cause of Death Registry to pinpoint 2,368 individuals who had first-time heart attacks during an 11-year follow up period.

Adjustments were made for factors including age, gender, cholesterol, weight and diabetes. Depression and anxiety, which can cause insomnia, also were considered.

Those who have trouble falling asleep most days in the last month were found to have a 45 percent higher heart attack risk, while individuals who had difficulty staying asleep in the last 30 days had a 30 percent higher heart attack risk.

People who did not wake up feeling refreshed in the morning more than one time each week were 27 percent more likely to have a heart attack. The risks were found to be greater in patients with more than one symptom.

Researchers did not determine why insomnia was linked to a higher heart attack risk, though it has been suggested that sleep problems may affect heart attack risk factors such as high blood pressure and inflammation.

Investigators said additional study is needed, and noted that the results may not apply to Americans because their daylight hours and sleep patterns differ from Norwegians.

The clinical study was recently published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

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Review Date: 
October 26, 2011
Last Updated:
October 26, 2011