No Sleep Could Put Patients at Risk for Stroke

Insomnia associated with increased risk of stroke particularly in younger people

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Insomnia can negatively affect your health in many ways because of the stress that lack of sleep puts on your body. It's possible that this stress could even affect your heart health in a big way.

A recent study found that insomnia patients were more likely to have a stroke four years after treatment for insomnia compared to people without insomnia.

The researchers suggested that people with insomnia, especially younger patients, should see a doctor to have their risk of stroke assessed and to get treated with either medical or cognitive therapy.

"Tell a doctor if you are having trouble sleeping."

The lead author of this study was Ming-Ping Wu, MD, PhD, from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Department of Medical Research at Chi-Mei Medical Center, and of the Center of General Education — both in Tainan, Taiwan.

The study included 21,438 patients who were hospitalized and had a code for insomnia or were in outpatient care at least three times for insomnia between January 1, 2002 and December 31, 2005.

Of these patients, 61 percent were women, and the average age was 52 years old.

There were also 64,314 people who did not have insomnia and were matched for age, sex and healthcare date.

None of the participants had been diagnosed with stroke, sleep apnea or insomnia before.

The researchers conducted follow-up for four years.

The findings revealed 583 cases of stroke among the patients with insomnia and 962 cases of stroke among the people without insomnia.

The insomnia patients were 54 percent more likely to have a stroke than the non-insomnia patients.

Dr. Wu and team found that eight times as many insomnia patients between the ages of 18 and 34 years old had a stroke compared to the those with no insomnia in the same age group.

The female patients were 28 percent more likely to have a stroke than the male patients.

The researchers determined that older age, diabetes, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation (irregular, rapid heart rate that can cause poor blood flow to the body) and lower socioeconomic status were significantly associated with increased risk of stroke.

"Individuals should not simply accept insomnia as a benign, although difficult, condition that carries no major health risks," said study co-author Wen Hsu, PhD. "They should seek medical evaluation of other possible risk factors that might contribute to stroke."

The researchers noted a couple limitations of their study. First, participants in the no insomnia group may have had unreported insomnia. Second, diagnoses of insomnia were determined by medical record and not by examination.

This study was published on April 3 in Stroke.

The Chi-Mei Medical Center provided funding.

Review Date: 
April 4, 2014
Last Updated:
April 10, 2014