A recent study from American Heart Association’s Journal Circulation has shown that people who find it difficult to sleep may have a significant risk of coronary artery disease, heart failure and stroke.
Researchers define Insomnia as a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep.
“Sleep is important for biological recovery and takes around a third of our lifetime, but in modern society more and more people complain of Insomnia,” said first author Qiao He, a master’s degree student at China Medical University, Shenyang, China. “For example, it is reported that approximately one-third of the general population in the world has suffered from Insomnia symptoms”.
Susanna Larsson, Ph.D., lead study author and associate professor of cardiovascular and nutritional epidemiology at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden explained that previous studies have found an association between Insomnia, which affects up to 30 percent of the general population, and an increased risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
Larsson added that these observational studies were unable to determine whether Insomnia is a cause, or if it is just associated with them.
In this study on Insomnia, Larsson and a colleague applied Mendelian randomization, a technique that uses genetic variants known to be connected with a potential risk factor, such as Insomnia, to reduce bias in the results. The 1.3 million participants with or without heart disease and stroke were drawn from four major public studies and groups.
The result showed that genetic variants for Insomnia were associated with significantly higher odds of coronary artery disease, heart failure and ischemic stroke, particularly large artery stroke, but not a trial fibrillation.
“It’s important to identify the underlying reason for insomnia and treat it,” Larsson said. “Sleep is a behavior that can be changed by new habits and stress management.”
A limitation to this study is that the results represent a genetic variant linked to Insomnia rather than Insomnia itself. According to Larsson, it was not possible to determine whether or not the individuals with cardiovascular diseases had Insomnia.