Study: Treating Insomnia Could Reduce Heart Attack and Stroke
Sleep heals and restores the body
A study suggests that treating insomnia can subsequently reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Surprising? Here is what the researchers found.
Qiao He, a researcher at China Medical University, says in a news release:
“Sleep is important for biological recovery and takes around a third of our lifetime, but in modern society more and more people complain of insomnia. For example, it is reported that approximately one-third of the general population in Germany has suffered from insomnia symptoms.
Researchers have found associations between insomnia and poor health outcomes. But the links between insomnia and heart disease or stroke has [sic] been inconsistent.” 
For the study, researchers analyzed 15 cohort studies of 160,867 people who were followed for an average of 3 to nearly 20 years to see whether there was a link between insomnia and incidence of or death from cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular disease was defined in the research as:
- Heart attack
- Coronary heart disease
- Heart failure
- A combination of events
Insomnia was defined as trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, and non-restorative sleep. These conditions were respectively associated with a 27%, an 11%, and an 18% higher risk of cardiovascular and stroke events. 
“The underlying mechanisms for these links are not completely understood. Previous studies have shown that insomnia may change metabolism and endocrine function, increase sympathetic activation, raise blood pressure, and elevate levels of proinflammatory and inflammatory cytokines — all of which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke.” 
The study also found that women with insomnia were slightly more at risk than men for developing cardiovascular disease and stroke, but the difference was not statistically significant.
He explains that due to a lack of meta-analysis and the lack of statistically significant differences, the team couldn’t conclude that women with insomnia symptoms are in more danger of heart disease and stroke than men. But, she says:
“However, we do know that women are more prone to insomnia because of differences in genetics, sex hormones, stress, and reaction to stress. It may therefore be prudent to pay more attention to women’s sleep health.” 
According to the study, sleep helps repair and heal the heart and blood vessels, and gives the cardiovascular system a chance to rest. This in turn allows other organs to be restored.
“Previous studies have shown that insomnia may change metabolism and endocrine function, increase sympathetic activation, raise blood pressure, and elevate levels of pro-inflammatory and inflammatory cytokines – all of which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke.” 
Past studies have indeed shown that not enough sleep – as well as too much of it – can damage your heart, possibly because it raises the calcium in your coronary arteries, leading to arterial stiffness.
A September 2015 study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that people with insomnia have a greater risk of both fatal heart attack and stroke.
In a report from November of 2016, researchers at the not-for-profit research organization RAND Europe wrote that lack of sleep results in higher mortality risk and costs the U.S. economy $411 billion a year. 
Many people shrug off sleep problems and consider it a normal consequence of modern life, but getting good sleep is essential for good health.
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Julie Fidler has written hundreds of articles on key world topics such as health, drugs, and law. She is also the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. Oh, and she loves to take care of two ridiculously- spoiled cats in her free time.