WEDNESDAY, March 6 (HealthDay News) -- Insomnia may triple the risk of developing heart failure, a large new study from Norway suggests.
Heart problems definitely lead to sleep problems, said lead researcher Dr. Lars Laugsand, but his team tried to determine whether the reverse might also be true.
"Insomnia is a frequent and easily recognized, potentially manageable and treatable condition," said Laugsand, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of public health at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, in Trondheim.
Laugsand added that the researchers found an association between insomnia and heart failure, not that insomnia actually causes heart failure.
"We still do not know whether heart failure is really caused by insomnia, and it is still unclear why insomnia is linked to higher heart failure risk," he said.
Heart failure is a chronic condition in which the heart does not pump blood efficiently enough to meet the body's needs.
There are some indications that a biological cause might explain an insomnia-heart failure connection, Laugsand said. "One possible mechanism could be that insomnia activates stress responses in the body that might negatively affect heart function," he explained.
"If our results are confirmed by others and there is a real causal association, evaluation of insomnia symptoms might have consequences for cardiovascular prevention," Laugsand added.
The report was published March 6 in the online edition of the European Heart Journal.
To measure the effect of insomnia on the risk of heart failure, Laugsand's team collected data on more than 54,000 men and women who took part in a Norwegian study on public health factors between 1995 and 1997. None of the participants had heart failure at the start of the study.
As part of the study, researchers asked about the quality of the participants'
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