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Insomnia Leads to Threefold Increased Risk of Heart Failure

Mar 06, 2013 07:26 AM EST

According to a new study from Norway, people who suffer from insomnia have a higher chance of heart failure than people who sleep well.

Insomnia is a condition where a person has difficulty falling asleep or keeps waking up at night. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from chronic insomnia.

The present study was based on more than 54,000 people between the ages 20 and 89 years. Researchers found that for people with insomnia, heart failure risk jumped threefold when compared with people who hadn't got any problems sleeping.

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump enough blood in the body. However, it doesn't mean that the heart has stopped working. The condition requires medical attention, says the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

"We related heart failure risk to three major insomnia symptoms including trouble falling asleep, problems staying asleep, and not waking up feeling refreshed in the morning. In our study, we found that persons suffering from insomnia have increased risk of having heart failure. Those reporting suffering from all three insomnia symptoms simultaneously were at considerably higher risk than those who had no symptoms or only one or two symptoms," said Dr. Lars Laugsand, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Public Health, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway, in a news release.

Data was collected from men and women who had enrolled in the Nord-Trondelag Health study (HUNT) between 1995 and 1997. These people were free of any heart-related condition when they joined the study. Researchers followed study participants till 2008; by then, 1412 people had suffered from heart failure.

Researchers add that although the study found a link between insomnia and heart failure, it doesn't mean that insomnia causes heart failure.

"We do not know whether heart failure is really caused by insomnia, but if it is, insomnia is a potentially treatable condition using strategies such as following simple recommendations concerning sleeping habits (often referred to as sleep hygiene), and several psychological and pharmacological therapies. Evaluation of sleep problems might provide additional information that could be used in prevention of heart failure," said Laugsand.

According to National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, insomnia can be treated with lifestyle changes. However, for chronic insomnia, doctors prescribe medication or cognitive behavior therapy.

The study is published in the European Heart Journal.

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