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Insomnia & Heart Disease: Is Lack of Sleep Increasing Your Risk?

Author: Thomas Perry, M.D., FACC

Every night, about one-third of America tosses and turns in bed. While having difficulty falling asleep is bad enough, it would seem insomnia has another component. New research suggests that insomnia could increase an individual’s risk for heart disease.

What the Researchers Discovered

The study examined data from 23,447 men over a period of six years. Researchers found that men who had difficulty falling asleep were at a 55 percent higher risk for cardiovascular disease when compared to those who reported falling asleep easily at night.

Understanding the Results

Fifty-five percent sounds like a huge increased risk for heart disease. However, it’s not quite as dramatic as it sounds. The statistic represents the “relative risk,” which compares the two groups with one another. The “absolute risk” (risk of death not in relation to the two groups) rose from 7 percent to 15 percent, all other factors equal.

Notes On This Study

  • This study draws from observed data. The study was not performed in a clinical sleep lab. Sleeping notes were provided by the study participants, and there is no way of verifying or qualifying the participants’ reports.
  • Researchers did not set out to uncover a relationship between insomnia and heart disease.
  • Additional influences must be taken into consideration. For example, could sleeplessness actually be a symptom of stress, which increases the risk for heart disease? Could some instances of sleeplessness be caused by drinking and eating rich meals late at night? etc.

Reduce Heart Disease Risk

If you have trouble sleeping, this blog post isn’t meant to give you another health issue to worry about. There are plenty of other things that you can control in your mission to reduce heart disease risk. For starters:

  • Eat heart healthy
  • Exercise regularly
  • Don’t smoke
  • Learn your family history
  • Manage stress
  • Check blood sugar levels
  • Manage a healthy weight
  • Have an ABI test (patients over age 60)

To learn more about reducing your risk for heart disease, call Advanced Heart & Vascular Institute at 602-507-6002.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.


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