Insomnia May Increase Your Heart Disease Risk, Experts Say — Best Life

There are a number of factors that contribute to your heart health. But while we all have a general understanding of how our diet and activity level comes into play, what about when you’re inactive? According to medical experts, something you’re doing at night could be impacting your health and increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. Read on to find out what you may want to change about your nightly routine.

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old woman having heart attack and grabbing her chest

In the US, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, as well as people of most ethnic and racial groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As heart disease puts so many lives at risk and incurs costs of nearly $363 billion annually (just in the US), researchers are investigating additional contributing factors, which could be as simple as not brushing your teeth or flossing at night. Though more research is needed to determine the exact relationship between your pearly whites and your heart, several studies have shown that poor oral health is linked with higher rates of cardiovascular disease, according to Harvard Health Publishing. As it turns out, another nightly habit may also be associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

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A senior woman lying awake in bed with a worried look on her face

If you are tossing and turning at night, it could be putting your heart health at risk, according to Katie Tomschko, MS, RDN, owner of her own private practice in Buffalo, New York. This has to do with your blood pressure, which decreases when sleeping soundly, she said.

“If we are having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, our blood pressure is sure to rise,” Tomaschko said. “This increase in blood pressure is not good for our cardiovascular health, thus resulting in an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Scientific studies have also shown that insomnia—the sleep disorder that makes it difficult to fall or stay asleep—is associated with a number of cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension, coronary heart disease, and heart failure.

A doctor listening to the heartbeat of a senior man by using a stethoscope

For those who already have heart disease, restless nights could be more of a concern. A study published April 7 in Sleep Advances found that insomnia could increase your risk of recurrent major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE), including cardiovascular death, stroke, and heart failure, among others.

Study investigators included 1,082 patients who had either a heart attack or a procedure to open blocked arteries. At the beginning of the study, 45 percent of patients had insomnia, and 24 percent said they had used a sleep medication during the past week.

Over an average follow-up period of 4.2 years, 364 occurrences of MACE were observed in 225 patients. When comparing patients that had insomnia with those that didn’t, the condition was found to be significantly associated with repeat heart events—even after accounting for cardiovascular risk factors, comorbidities, and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

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