Recent research suggests there may be a connection between insomnia and heart attack risks. The data suggests that those with chronic insomnia, or difficulty sleeping for at least three nights each week, could be at an increased risk for having a heart attack.
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is difficulty falling or staying asleep despite having enough time to sleep. It can cause daytime sleepiness, low energy, irritability and problems with concentrating. Chronic insomnia is when the symptoms of insomnia occur most nights for a period of at least three months, making it difficult to get restorative sleep and affecting quality of life.
How Insomnia Affects Your Heart Health
Research has indicated that individuals with chronic insomnia may be at higher risk for long-term cardiovascular issues, such as increased blood pressure and elevated levels of the “bad” cholesterol. In addition, a recent study suggests that insomnia may be linked to an increased risk of heart attack. The study found that people who had frequent symptoms of insomnia during middle age were more likely to experience a heart attack later in life compared to those without insomnia. While more research is still needed, it is important to prioritize self-care to ensure you get enough restful sleep and practice healthy lifestyle habits like regular physical activity and following a healthy diet.
The Link Between Sleep Deprivation and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Sleep deprivation is known to increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including a higher likelihood of heart attack. Studies have found that adults who habitually get less than the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night are more likely to develop hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. In addition, researchers believe that lack of sleep disrupts hormonal balance, which can lead to chronic inflammation, stiffening of the arteries, and hardening of the arterial walls – all leading factors in increasing risk for heart attack.
Identifying Symptoms of Potential Heart Attack Risks
Being aware of potential risk factors for heart attack is important for those with insomnia. It’s important to watch for symptoms such as chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea, pain in the arms and other parts of the upper body, dizziness, lightheadedness and cold sweats. If any of these signs are present on a regular basis then it’s important to seek medical advice immediately.
What Steps Can You Take to Reduce Risk Factors?
Those with insomnia should take the following steps to reduce their risk for heart attack: Regular exercise, an improved diet, quit smoking, and stress management techniques. Exercise has been proven to reduce blood pressure and improve mental health. A balanced diet can minimize the build up of unhealthy cholesterol in the bloodstream which can contribute to heart disease. Quitting smoking can help lower your risk for stroke and other cardiovascular issues. Finally, a good sleep hygiene routine including relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation can help manage stress levels that are causing problems with sleeping.
Association between insomnia and the incidence of myocardial infarction
A scientific study proved that individuals suffering from insomnia are more likely to experience a myocardial infarction (MI) than non-sufferers. According to the DSM-5, being diagnosed with difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, non-restorative sleep, and daytime dysfunction all increase the risk of MI. Additionally, sleeping for less than five hours or more than nine hours a night is linked with a higher chance of experiencing an MI. Further analysis revealed that patients who followed up for either less than five years or longer had an increased risk of having an MI, as well as male and female insomniacs. Finally, if the patient had a comorbid disease (i.e., hypertension, dyslipidemia or diabetes) in addition to insomnia their chances of experiencing a heart attack were even higher.