Photo courtesy of Alyssa L. Miller/Flickr Creative Commons
People who live with insomnia have trouble falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep or wake up feeling unrested. Often caused by stress, anxiety and/or medical conditions, chronic insomnia is far more than getting too little shut-eye.
A new study published by The European Heart Journal reveals that chronic insomnia is linked to an increased risk of heart failure. Researchers found that chronic stress responses in insomnia symptoms are linked to high blood pressure, higher heart rate and, consequentially, heart failure.
In this study, researchers collected data from 54,279 Norwegian men and women, 20 to 89 years old. Using a population-wide questionnaire, researchers gained information about participants' sleeping patterns and habits.
At the beginning of the study, all participants were free from known heart failures. After a followup, an average of 11 years later, there were 1412 cases of heart failure.
Researchers collected information about health, socio-demographic and psychological factors that could influence cardiovascular risks, such as age, high blood pressure, low physical activity, depression or anxiety. After taking these factors into consideration, researchers identified insomnia to be largely independent of other cardiovascular risks contributing to heart failure. The study also found participants with more insomnia symptoms had a greater risk of heart failure.
Although the study findings are grim for people living with chronic insomnia, there is some good news.
Author Dr. Lars Laugsand said in a statement on Bloomberg news, "We do not know whether heart failure is really caused by insomnia, but if it is, insomnia is a potentially treatable condition."