Insomnia is widespread in heart disease patients and significantly boosts the risk of heart attack, stroke or other major heart event, a new study says.
The findings show the need to check for and treat sleep problems in heart disease patients, according to researchers.
“Our study indicates that insomnia is common in heart disease patients and is linked with subsequent cardiovascular problems regardless of risk factors, coexisting health conditions and symptoms of mental health,” said lead author Lars Frojd, a medical student at the University of Oslo in Norway.
The new study included more than 1,000 heart disease patients (average age: 62). They participated for an average 16 months after a heart attack and/or a procedure to open blocked arteries — either bypass surgery or stent implantation.
At the start, 45% said they had insomnia and 24% said had used sleep medication in the previous week.
During an average 4.2-year follow-up, 225 patients had 364 major heart events. They included hospitalization for heart attack, restoring blocked blood flow, stroke, heart failure and cardiovascular death.
Insomnia accounted for 16% of repeat heart events, ranking it third in importance after smoking (27%) and inactivity (21%), according to findings presented Thursday at a virtual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology. The study was also published in the journal Sleep Advances.
“This means that 16% of recurrent major adverse cardiovascular events might have been avoided if none of the participants had insomnia,” Frojd said in a meeting news release.
He noted more research is needed to learn whether insomnia treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and digital applications would help heart patients.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a guide to living well with heart disease.
SOURCE: European Society of Cardiology, news release, April 7, 2022