After 11 years of follow-up, more than 1,400 participants had developed heart failure, Laugsand's group found. People who had multiple insomnia symptoms had a threefold increased risk of developing heart failure, compared to people who slept well. When depression and anxiety were accounted for, the risk was slightly more than fourfold.
Specifically, having difficulties going to sleep and staying asleep almost every night, and feeling tired in the morning more than once a week, were associated with an increased risk of heart failure, compared to people who never or rarely suffered from these symptoms.
These findings remained even after the researchers took age, sex, marital status, education, shift work, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, weight, physical activity, smoking, alcohol use and previous heart attacks into account.
Dr. Gregg Fonarow, professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, said,"Heart failure results in substantial [illness], mortality and health care expenditures."
Insomnia has been associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular events and death, and two earlier studies have suggested that insomnia may also be associated with the risk of heart failure, he noted.
Insomnia can increase the body's inflammatory and stress responses, said Fonarow, who's also a spokesman for the American Heart Association.
"Activation of these systems, as well as other mechanisms, may link insomnia to an increased risk of developing heart failure and other cardiovascular disease," he said. "However, whether preventing or treating insomnia would lower the risk of developing heart failure requires further study."
To learn more about insomnia, visit the National Sleep Foundation.
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