Heart Failure Patients Need Their Sleep

Sleep problems associated with rehospitalizations in heart failure patients

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

(RxWiki News) Lack of sleep can put some serious stress on your body — especially if you are already recovering from organ failure. It's possible that not sleeping could land you right back in the hospital.

A recent study found that sleep problems were common in patients hospitalized for heart failure.

The researchers discovered that long-term sleep problems were associated with rehospitalization for any cause and heart problems.

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

The lead author of this study was Peter Johansson, MD, from the Department of Cardiology at the University Hospital of Linköping in Linköping, Sweden.

The study included 499 patients who were in the hospital due to heart failure.

The participants were taking part in a simultaneous study called the Co-ordinating study evaluating Outcomes of Advising and Counseling in Heart failure (COACH).

The average age of the participants in the current study was 70 years old.

The researchers evaluated the participants' sleep problems by asking, "Was your sleep restless?" both at baseline and one year after hospitalization.

The findings showed that 215 (43 percent) of the participants reported sleep problems at baseline, and 105 (21 percent) of the participants reported sleep problems after one year.

Among the 215 participants with sleep issues at baseline, 65 (30 percent) of them still had trouble sleeping after one year. And 40 (14 percent) of the 284 participants that did not report sleep problems at baseline said they were having trouble sleeping after one year.

After adjusting for physical and mental health factors, the researchers determined that the participants with sleep problems at both baseline and after one year were 2.1 times more likely to be rehospitalized for any cause and 2.2 times more likely to be rehospitalized for heart problems.

"Good sleep and cardiovascular problems have been linked for years. It's well known that patients with sleep apnea have higher rates of cardiovascular disease and atrial fibrillation," Jeffrey Schussler, MD, an interventional cardiologist at Baylor University Medical Center's Heart and Vascular Hospital in Dallas, TX, told dailyRx News.

"This study reinforces the link between poor outcomes in patients with heart failure and poor sleep," said Dr. Schussler, who was not involved in this research. "One central question is whether the poor sleep caused the worsening of the heart failure, or the worsening heart failure caused the poor sleep."

Dr. Johansson concluded, "Poor sleep may itself lead to worsening heart failure and increased hospitalizations. Alternatively it could be a signal that patients have other problems like sleep apnea or psychological distress that are keeping them awake. All heart failure patients should be asked about sleep so that if there is a problem we can find out what it is and provide treatment."

This study was presented on April 5 at EuroHeartCare 2014, the official annual meeting of the Council of Cardiovascular Nursing and Allied Professions of the European Society of Cardiology.

Review Date: 
April 5, 2014
Last Updated:
April 10, 2014