Posted on Apr 03, 2017, 6 a.m.
An analysis of several studies reveals a link between insomnia and a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
Research findings recently published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology state that insomnia is linked to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. The study's author, Qiao He, a graduate school student at China Medical University in Shenyang, China, noted that adequate sleep is imperative for biological recovery. In fact, sleep takes up about one-third of the average human's life. Unfortunately, a growing number of people are complaining of insomnia and other sleep problems. He noted that about one-third of those living in Germany suffer symptoms of insomnia.
Why the Research is Important
Sleep researchers previously found links between insomnia and health deterioration. However, the ties between insomnia and stroke or heart disease have not been very strong. The recent research's meta-analysis studied the links between the symptoms of insomnia and stroke or an incidence/death from heart failure, heart disease or acute myocardial infarction. The most common symptoms of insomnia include difficulty maintaining sleep for an extended period of time, difficulty going to sleep, non-restorative sleep and awakening in the early morning hours.
Study Details and Findings
The research team examined 15 cohort studies with over 160,000 participants. Nearly 12,000 adverse events were noted during a median follow-up ranging from three to 29.6 years. It was determined that significant associations exist between non-restorative sleep, difficulty maintaining sleep and difficulty initiating sleep and the risk of stroke as well as a heart attack. The increased relative risk was 1.18, 1.11 and 1.27, respectively. Non-restorative sleep, difficulty maintaining sleep and difficulty getting to sleep were linked to 18 percent, 11 percent and 27 percent of stroke and cardiovascular events, respectively.
Though the links noted above are legitimate, the cause of the heightened risk is not yet fully understood. Prior studies found that insomnia may alter metabolism and endocrine function, heighten blood pressure, bump sympathetic activation and spike levels of inflammatory and proinflammatory cytokines. Each is a risk factor for stroke as well as cardiovascular disease.
Differences Between the Sexes
It is interesting to note that women plagued with insomnia had a slightly higher risk of stroke and cardiovascular events than men. This proved especially true for those who endure non-restorative sleep. Though the difference between men and women is not of statistical significance, the study's author concluded that insomnia is more dangerous for females. Women are more prone to sleeplessness and poor sleep due to differences in sex hormones, reactions to stress, genetics, and stress. This is precisely why future research will likely pay especially close attention to women's sleep health.
Insomnia is becoming more prevalent with each passing day. Sleep disorders and sleep health must be included in clinical risk assessments. Additional health education is necessary to heighten public awareness of the symptoms of insomnia as well as potential risks. Otherwise, those who suffer from sleep problems might feel as though their sleep challenges are not worthy of being addressed by a professional. The result of insufficient treatment or a total lack of treatment could be a fatal heart attack or life-altering stroke.
The association between insomnia symptoms and risk of cardio-cerebral vascular events: A meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies, European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, Qiao He, Peng Zhang, Guangxiao Li, Huixu Dai, Jingpu Shi, Published March 30, 2017