New Study Links Insomnia To An Increased Risk Of Heart Attack

Feb 26, 2023 at 10:30 pm by Alex

New Study Links Insomnia To An Increased Risk Of Heart Attack

A new study links insomnia to an increased risk of heart attack. Sleep is a vital aspect of maintaining overall health, and a recent study has shed light on the substantial impact that insomnia has on heart health. The research indicates that people suffering from insomnia may face a higher risk of experiencing a heart attack.

The frequency of insomnia, the most common sleep disorder in the US, is considerable, with approximately 10% to 15% of the American population suffering from insomnia. Furthermore, sleep deprivation affects nearly half of all American adults, highlighting the severity of the issue.

The meta-analysis, published in the journal Clinical Cardiology, examined previously published research to investigate the potential association between the risk of heart attack and insomnia. The study suggested that the link between insomnia and the risk of a heart attack is principally pronounced in women.

Significantly Pronounce In Women

Dr. Martha Gulati, director of prevention at the Cedars-Sinai Smidt Heart Institute, noted that insomnia poses a significant risk factor for women who have experienced any form of ischemic heart disease. She added that insomnia is a prevalent problem, with an estimated 1 in 10 patients in the United States experiencing it.

To conduct their analysis, the researchers defined insomnia as a sleep disorder characterized by three main symptoms: difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, waking up early and being unable to fall back asleep.

The extensive study encompassed data over more than 11 years from over 1 million adults in the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, Taiwan, and China. Among the partakers, approximately 153,881 individuals had insomnia, while 1,030,375 did not. The researchers found that those with insomnia had a 1.69 times higher likelihood of experiencing a heart attack compared to those without insomnia. However, it is worth noting that the absolute number of heart attacks remained relatively low, affecting around 1.6% of individuals with insomnia and 1.2% of those without.

Heart Attack Risk

The study also discovered a connection between sleep duration and heart attack risk. Contributors who slept five hours or less had the highest risk, being 1.56 times more likely to have a heart attack than those who slept seven or eight hours. Surprisingly, longer sleep duration did not necessarily confirm greater protection, as individuals who slept six hours a night had a lower heart attack risk compared to those who slept nine hours or more.

Dr. Gulati explained that a lack of sleep can elevate the risk of a heart attack due to disrupted cortisol regulation. Cortisol is a hormone that regulates the body's response to stress, and heightened levels can lead to increased blood pressure. When individuals experience restful sleep, their nighttime blood pressure tends to decrease. However, inadequate sleep can lead to an imbalance in cortisol levels, resulting in higher nighttime blood pressure, which is a potential alleyway to increased heart disease risk.

Considering the findings, the authors of the study suggest that insomnia should be considered a risk factor in guidelines for preventing cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Hani Aiash, the study's senior author and a cardiologist, highlighted the importance of good sleep as preventive medicine. He highlighted that people who regularly slept below five or six hours exposed themselves to a higher risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack), highlighting the significance of sleep patterns.

Improve Your Sleep

To improve sleep and avoid insomnia, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adopting several simple steps:

  1. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time daily, even on weekends, to establish a healthy sleep rhythm.
  2. Create a relaxing sleep environment in your bedroom, ensuring it is quiet, dark, and at a comfortable temperature.
  3. Remove electronic devices such as smartphones, TVs, and computers from the bedroom to minimize sleep disturbances.
  4. Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime, as they can negatively impact sleep quality.
  5. Remain physically active during the day to promote better sleep.

If insomnia continues in spite of these measures, people are encouraged to consult a healthcare professional to explore additional remedies and treatments.