For years sleep disturbances have been associated with cardiovascular disease. The most commonly discussed correlation was sleep apnea and heart disease. The American College of Cardiology released a study in late February of 2023 that urged sleep disorders to be assessed and included as a cardiovascular risk factor.
This study, which is the largest of its kind to date, looked at the long-term cardiac outcomes in people who suffer from insomnia. Insomnia is characterized by not sleeping enough, not sleeping well, or having trouble falling or staying asleep. The research demonstrated that individuals with this sleep disorder have a 69% increased risk of experiencing a heart attack regardless of their age. When insomnia was paired with other comorbidities such as hypertension or diabetes, the study confirmed this risk is even greater. In addition, individuals who sleep less than 5 hours each night or greater than 9 hours each night were also found to be at increased cardiovascular risk.
While sleep disordered breathing is a widely accepted risk factor for poor cardiovascular outcomes, this analysis reinforces the importance of addressing sleep health in the setting of cardiac disease prevention and treatment. This is especially important in patients with common comorbidities such as hypertension and/or diabetes whose risk for heart attack is likely two-fold.
Roughly, 1 in every 3 adults worldwide have insomnia symptoms and about 10% of adults meet the criteria for insomnia disorder. Based on the findings in this study, it is important to prioritize sleep and evaluating if you are getting adequate sleep. Those we have trouble falling or staying asleep were linked to a 13% increased likelihood of heart attack compared to people without these symptoms.
The Virginia Heart Sleep Center is a fully accredited sleep program with two state-of-the-art sleep center locations capable of performing in-house and at-home sleep studies. With four board-certified sleep specialists and two advanced practice providers, our goal is to educate our patients regarding the importance of adequate, good quality sleep in order to maintain their overall health and to empower our patients to be an advocate for their own care.