A team of researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm found an increased risk of stroke, heart failure and coronary artery disease in people who suffer from insomnia. The association was particularly higher for artery stroke, but not atrial fibrillation.
Susanna Larsson, lead study author and associate professor of cardiovascular and nutritional epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet, explained that while observational studies have already found a link between insomnia and heart disease and stroke, they were not able to explain if insomnia could be a cause.
For the study, published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, 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 research included 1.3 million participants with and without heart disease or stroke, who were drawn from four major public studies and groups.
“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.”
The results, however, represent a genetic variant link to insomnia rather than insomnia itself, as it was not possible to determine whether or not the participants with cardiovascular disease had insomnia.