This release is available in French.
Montreal, December 1st, 2010 The heart and the brain appear to be even more closely connected than previously imagined. The damaging effects of myocardial infarction are apparently not confined to the heart, but also affect the brain. In fact, infarction seems to cause neuron loss at the level of the brainstem, which leads to insomnia, notably paradoxical insomnia. Sleep plays a crucial role in post-infarction remission, as demonstrated by the team of Roger Godbout, Ph.D., his colleague Guy Rousseau and their student Thierno Madjou Bah, investigators at the Research Center of the Hpital du Sacr-Cur de Montral, in a new study published today in the scientific journal SLEEP.
Although insomnia has long been observed following infarction, to date there have been no studies explaining the phenomenon in scientific terms, apart from the stress that is doubtless brought on by the heart attack. "Thanks to this study, we have been able to show that there is indeed a physiological explanation the death of cells that play a key role in sleep," says the researcher, who is also a full professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Universit de Montral.
In the two weeks following a myocardial infarction, not only have periods of paradoxical sleep been observed to be less frequent and of shorter duration, but there are fewer cholinergic neurons in the brainstem, which control paradoxical sleep, due to the phenomenon of self-destruction of cells, known as apoptosis.
Treating insomnia to help the heart heal
A previous study also conducted by the team of Godbout and Rousseau demonstrated that myocardial infarction affected the limbic system, a region of the brain that is responsible for mood, which explains the depression frequently observed after heart attacks. "Since depression is frequently acc
|Contact: Vronique Allaire|
University of Montreal