DALLAS, Aug. 19, 2019 -- People suffering from insomnia may have an increased risk of coronary artery disease, heart failure and stroke, according to new research in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation.
Previous observational studies have found an association between insomnia, which affects up to 30% of the general population, and an increased risk of developing heart disease and stroke. These observational studies were unable to determine whether insomnia is a cause, or if it is just associated with them, explained Susanna Larsson, Ph.D., lead study author and associate professor of cardiovascular and nutritional epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.
In this first-of-its-kind study on insomnia, Larsson and a colleague applied Mendelian randomization, a technique that uses genetic variants known to be connected with a potential risk factor, such as insomnia, to reduce bias in the results. The 1.3 million participants with or without heart disease and stroke were drawn from four major public studies and groups.
Researchers found genetic variants for insomnia were associated with significantly higher odds of coronary artery disease, heart failure and ischemic stroke - particularly large artery stroke, but not atrial fibrillation.
"It's important to identify the underlying reason for insomnia and treat it," Larsson said. "Sleep is a behavior that can be changed by new habits and stress management."
A limitation to this study is that the results represent a genetic variant link to insomnia rather than insomnia itself. According to Larsson, it was not possible to determine whether or not the individuals with cardiovascular disease had insomnia.
Larsson's co-author is Hugh Markus, M.D., FMed.Sci. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.
The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (Forte), the Swedish Research Council, a British Heart Foundation program grant, and the National Institute for Health Research funded the study.
Available multimedia is on right column of release link - https://newsroom.heart.org/news/insomnia-tied-to-higher-risk-of-heart-disease-and-stroke?preview=ccfe86e41d75c77eed39d1c67d406dda
After Aug. 19, view the manuscript online.
AHA News Release: Sleep deprivation may increase risk of cardiovascular disease in older women.
Sleep disorders may influence heart disease risk factors: American Heart Association Scientific Statement
Follow AHA/ASA news on Twitter @HeartNews
Statements and conclusions of study authors published in American Heart Association scientific journals are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the association's policy or position. The Association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The Association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific Association programs and events. The Association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations and health insurance providers are available at https://www.heart.org/en/about-us/aha-financial-information.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public's health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.