11:57pm Saturday 07 December 2019

Insomnia tied to higher risk of heart disease and stroke

Study Highlights:

 

  • Data from more than a million people found that genetic liability to insomnia may increase the risk of coronary artery disease, heart failure and stroke.
  • Among types of ischemic stroke, genetic liability to insomnia was primarily associated with an increased risk of large artery stroke.

 

DALLAS  — People suffering from insomnia may have an increased risk of coronary artery diseaseheart failure and stroke, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

Previous observational studies have found an association between insomnia, which affects up to 30% of the general population, and an increased risk of developing heart disease and stroke. These observational studies were unable to determine whether insomnia is a cause, or if it is just associated with them, explained Susanna Larsson, Ph.D., lead study author and associate professor of cardiovascular and nutritional epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.

In this first-of-its-kind 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.

Researchers found 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 atrial 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 link to insomnia rather than insomnia itself. According to Larsson, it was not possible to determine whether or not the individuals with cardiovascular disease had insomnia.

Larsson’s co-author is Hugh Markus, M.D., FMed.Sci. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (Forte), the Swedish Research Council, a British Heart Foundation program grant, and the National Institute for Health Research funded the study.

 

Statements and conclusions of study authors published in American Heart Association scientific journals are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the association’s policy or position. The Association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The Association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific Association programs and events. The Association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations and health insurance providers are available at https://www.heart.org/en/about-us/aha-financial-information.

 

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