Give Your Heart a Good Night’s Sleep

Insomnia symptoms linked to heart failure in large long term study

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

(RxWiki News) It's frustrating enough when you toss and turn, unable to fall asleep. It's worse when you can't stay asleep. And now it seems these sleeping problems may affect more than your rest.

A recent study found that having several symptoms of insomnia was linked to a higher risk of heart failure in a large group of men and women. Insomnia is the inability to get to sleep, to stay asleep or to get enough sleep.

The study showed only a link between the two conditions and could not show that insomnia caused heart failure.

However, individuals who had three symptoms of insomnia were more than four times more likely to develop heart failure within the next 10 years than those without insomnia.

"Talk to your doctor if you can't sleep."

The study, led by Lars E. Laugsand, PhD, of the Department of Public Health at Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Norway, aimed to find out whether there was a link between insomnia and heart problems.

The researchers first gathered data from 54,279 men and women, aged 20 to 89, regarding sleeping problems and their demographics, such as age, weight and income.

Participants were asked whether they had difficulty falling asleep, if they had difficulty staying asleep or whether they were simply not feeling well-rested after sleeping.

The researchers also gathered information on the men's health, including their cardiovascular disease risk factors. None of the participants were known to have heart failure at the start of the study.

The researchers then followed the participants from the start of the study, between 1995 and 1997, through the end of the study in 2008. Then they calculated whether insomnia problems appeared related to participants' heart problems.

A total of 1,412 participants developed heart failure during the course of the study, based on medical records from hospitals or death certificates.

The researchers found that the more symptoms of insomnia that participants had, the higher their risk of heart failure was.

For example, the participants with just one symptom of insomnia were no more or less likely than the participants without insomnia to experience heart failure.

However, the participants with two symptoms of insomnia were at a 35 percent higher risk of heart failure than those without insomnia.

Participants with three symptoms of insomnia were four and a half times more likely to develop heart failure than participants with no insomnia symptoms.

Therefore, the researchers concluded that insomnia is associated with an increased risk of heart failure. However, the study only showed a correlation, or a link, between insomnia and heart failure. It does not and cannot show that insomnia caused heart failure.

The study was published March 5 in the European Heart Journal. The research was funded by the Central Norway Regional Health Authority, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the Swedish Research Council and the Swedish Council of Working Life and Social Research. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 7, 2013
Last Updated:
August 15, 2013