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Insomnia & Heart Disease

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According to research, insomnia increases the risk of heart disease. In fact, insomnia can cause a number of health problems. It is important therefore, to understand the possible problems that can result from insomnia and the possible solutions to those problems.

The number of simple lifestyle therapies shown to either enhance or disrupt health amaze me. None more important than sleep.

I am a long-term cancer survivor who often struggles with sleep. I am not an insomniac. I do however, need to follow several basic steps daily, in order to get a good nights sleep. And those steps are:

  • Daily, moderate exercise-
  • Relatively early dinner (no eating after 7:00 ish)
  • Little if any napping during my day-
  • Little if any alcohol with dinner-

What negative affects does insomnia have on heart health?

  1. Increased risk of heart disease: Chronic insomnia has been linked to an increased risk of developing heart disease. Sleep deprivation can disrupt the body’s normal functioning, including processes that regulate blood pressure, inflammation, and glucose metabolism, all of which are important for heart health.
  2. Hypertension (high blood pressure): Lack of sleep can lead to elevated blood pressure levels. Over time, this can contribute to the development of hypertension, a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems.
  3. Increased inflammation: Insomnia and sleep deprivation can trigger inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is associated with various cardiovascular conditions, including atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) and coronary artery disease.
  4. Impaired glucose metabolism: Poor sleep quality or insufficient sleep duration can affect the body’s ability to regulate glucose levels properly. This can increase the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.
  5. Increased risk of arrhythmias: Insomnia may contribute to the development of irregular heart rhythms or arrhythmias. Disrupted sleep patterns can affect the autonomic nervous system, which regulates heart rate and rhythm, potentially leading to arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation.
  6. Worsened heart failure symptoms: For individuals with heart failure, insomnia can exacerbate symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, and fluid retention. Poor sleep quality can further strain the heart and worsen the overall prognosis.
  7. Reduced heart rate variability: Heart rate variability (HRV) is an indicator of the heart’s ability to respond to changes in the environment and stressors. Chronic insomnia may reduce HRV, which has been associated with an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events.

Interestingly, each of those basic rules is heart healthy as well as sleep healthy. Do you struggle with insomnia? Are you a cancer survivor as well? If you’d like to learn more about evidence-based non-conventional therapies to manage your health, let me know David.PeopleBeatingCancer@gmail.com

Hang in there,

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Insomnia Correlated to an Increased Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke, Study Shows

“People suffering from insomnia are potentially at a higher risk of coronary artery disease, heart failure, and stroke, according to a study published today in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

In this first-of-its-kind study on insomnia, researchers examined data from 1.3 million participants with or without cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke from 4 major  public databases, including studies of atrial fibrillation and stroke. Previous observational studies have found an association of insomnia with an increased risk of developing these diseases but were unable to determine whether insomnia served as a catalyst or was solely relative.

Researchers distinctly utilized Mendelian randomization (MR), a technique that uses genetic variants known to be connected with potential risk factor, to reduce bias in the results testing insomnia’s relation of genetic liability to numerous CVDs and forms of stroke:

  • Coronary artery disease (CAD)
  • Heart failure (HF)
  • Atrial fibrillation (AF)
  • Ischemic stroke and its 3 major subtypes…

After correcting for multiple testing in the standard MR analysis (random-effects inverse-variance weighted method), researchers uncovered that genetic liability to insomnia was associated with significantly higher odds of CAD, HF and ischemic stroke as a whole, but not AF. Ischemic stroke subtypes were all associated with genetic liability to insomnia through statistically significant odds ratios (OR):

  • Large artery stroke (OR = 1.13, 95% CI, 1.03-1.24; = .01)
  • Small vessel stroke (OR = 1.08, 95% CI, 0.99-1.17; P = .08)
  • Cardioembolic stroke (OR = 1.06, 95% CI, 0.99-1.14; P = .08)

Lead study author Susanna Larsson, PhD, associate professor of cardiovascular and nutritional epidemiology at the Karolinska Institutet, emphasized that “sleep is a behavior that can be changed by new habits and stress management.” By changing habits to ameliorate insomnia severity, individuals can subsequently lower their risk for CVDs and subtypes of stroke…

“It’s important to identify the underlying reason for insomnia and treat it,” said Larsson. As insomnia affects 30% of the general population, further studies are needed to assess insomnia relation to CVDs and stroke.


Larsson SC, Markus HS. Genetic liability to insomnia and cardiovascular disease risk [published online August 19, 2019]. Circulation.

Leave a Comment:

1 comment
Kathryn Guillaum says a couple of weeks ago

Sometimes I use a cbd suppository, but mostly….I take a plain regular aspirin ( or low dose ). It takes down inflammation from daily activities ( in my mind ), so I can relax and I usually am able to sleep.

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