Insomnia Significantly Raises Your Heart Attack Risk

October 31, 2011

Millions of people have chronic insomnia. Billions are spent on pharmacologic and natural treatment options every year. Now a study shows that if you have chronic insomnia, you have up to a 45% increased risk of having a heart attack. 

This study followed over 52,000 Norwegians who initially complained about insomnia. After 11 years of follow-up, those that said they had trouble falling asleep daily for over one month were 45% more likely to have suffered a heart attack. Those that couldn’t stay asleep all night had  a 30% increased risk, and those that reported unrefreshing sleep had a 27% increased risk. After adjusting for age, sex, marital status, education, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, weight, exercise, shift work, depression and anxiety, people with sleep troubles were found to have the highest risk of having a heart attack.

Something to sleep on.

3 Responses to “Insomnia Significantly Raises Your Heart Attack Risk”

  1. Carolyn Thomas on November 8th, 2011 9:27 am

    Thanks, Dr. Park, for sharing yet more evidence supporting the link between sleep problems and heart disease. Coincidentally, yesterday I received this comment on my blog ‘Heart Sisters’ from a heart patient who wrote:

    “My day starts around 4 in the morning and ends about 1 a.m. I can’t force myself to lay down one minute earlier. If I say I’m going to bed, I’ll just sit at my computer and read; at one point I would do work from home.”

    This was just one of a few points she raised, but it’s the one that struck me. My response to her yesterday was:

    “Sounds like you are somehow surviving in an alarming state of sleep deprivation most days (sleeping from 1-4 a.m?) We know that not getting enough healthy sleep is a very real risk factor for heart disease. New York sleep specialist Dr. Steven Park, author of the book ‘Sleep Interrupted’, cites many studies showing that untreated sleep problems are major risk factors for heart attack, stroke, and sudden death. A large study of over 40,000 people in Norway, in fact, found that those with chronic insomnia have up to a 45% increased risk of having a heart attack. Inadequate sleep and insomnia may feel “normal” for you if you’ve been living like this for a long time, but these conditions are NOT normal at all – please see your doctor about this issue. As Dr. Park writes: “Breathing and sleeping are THE MOST fundamental processes you have to do to not only survive, but to thrive.”

    Thanks for continuing to remind us of the strong link between sleep problems and heart disease.


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  3. Dr. Deb on December 24th, 2011 12:00 pm

    if insomnia alone raises risk of heart attack, then why do many of my sleep docs say that it doesn’t matter what my AHI is (in the absence of hypoxia), as long as I feel OK? I only sleep with sleeping pills, regardless of what I might feel like during the day, probably because my AHI is not zero. so clearly, ANY form of sleep disordered breathing which causes insomnia, regardless of the absence of hypoxia, could be expected to raise heart attack risk. yet these prominent sleep docs haven’t connected the dots…….

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