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People who suffer from insomnia may be at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular problems, new research suggests.
British and Swedish researchers have discovered that those who are genetically predisposed to sleeping issues may have a greater risk of suffering from heart failure, stroke and coronary artery disease.
Researchers have also said that this study supports old work that found links between poor sleep and problems with heart health, with the latest findings backing the idea that insomnia plays a part in causing cardiovascular problems.
Co-author of the research, Prof Hugh Markus of the University of Cambridge told The Guardian, “If that really is the case, then if we can improve or reduce sleep disturbances, that might reduce the risk of stroke.”
These findings are based on previous research that says there are about 250 genetic variants, each of which slightly increases the risk of someone having insomnia.
An association between insomnia and cardiovascular problems has already been established, but it couldn’t be determined whether insomnia was a cause of heart disease – or whether the two were just correlated.
Factors including how people eat, how much they exercise or their social and economic background could also contribute to causing both sleeping difficulties and heart disease.
The new study published in the academic journal Circulation, attempted to find a link between lack of sleep and strokes, coronary artery disease or heart failure.
The genetic variants associated with insomnia and whether they were linked with a higher risk of heart disease was studied by looking at a sample of over 1.3 million subjects, most of which were of European decent.
It was determined that a genetic predisposition to insomnia ‘was associated with significantly higher odds of coronary artery disease, heart failure and ischemic stroke’ although it wasn’t found to be associated with atrial fibrillation, a heart condition that causes an irregular heartbeat.
Despite this, while the study linked insomnia to a greater risk of heart disease, it couldn’t point to insomnia itself as a cause.
And of course, it’s important to note that there are plenty of other contributing to heart disease, including diet, exercise intake, and stress levels.