SUNDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) -- People with insomnia may have double the chances of a heart attack or stroke as opposed to those who sleep well, a study by Taiwanese researchers suggests.
The finding adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests that having trouble sleeping can make you sick.
It has long been understood that health issues and sleep are often interrelated. Many studies have suggested sleep problems can cause or contribute to such physical and mental conditions as obesity, depression, high blood pressure and even memory deficits in students who burn the midnight oil.
It can also go the other way, with health issues themselves -- such as pain, heartburn, hyperthyroidism, restless leg syndrome and anxiety -- causing insomnia.
"We know that things that contribute to insomnia can increase heart attack risk -- issues like diabetes and even stress itself," said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, in Los Angeles. "We've seen studies about insulin sensitivity that show, for example, there can be large metabolic changes tied to wake-sleep cycles."
For the new study, led by Dr. Chien-Yi Hsu at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital, the researchers used a nationwide heath database of 2 million people. After taking out those with depression, anxiety, sleep apnea, seizure disorder and substance abuse, the authors identified nearly 11,000 people aged 45 or older who suffered from insomnia, and more than 32,000 people who did not.
After about four years of following these participants, the researchers found that 1.6 percent of those who suffered from insomnia experienced a heart attack, while among those who slept well, only 0.76 percent had a heart attack.
While 11.2 percent of insomnia sufferers had a stroke, 6.5 percent of those without insomnia had a stroke.
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