Heart attacks often conjure up images of people falling to the floor and clutching their chest in agonising pain. While the event itself can be sudden and shocking, subtle signs can indicate your likelihood of having a heart attack long before you found yourself in the grip of one. This is because the condition is strongly tied to unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as eating a poor diet and leading a sedentary lifestyle.
People who had all three symptoms of insomnia were 18 percent more likely to develop a heart attack and other similar diseases than people who did not have any symptoms.
What’s more, people who had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep were nine percent more likely to develop stroke or heart disease than people who did not have this trouble.
Heart disease, an umbrella term for conditions that narrow or block blood vessels, is the leading cause of heart attacks.
Of the 55,127 people who had this symptom, 17,650, or 32 percent, had a stroke or heart disease, compared to 112,382, or 26 percent, of the 432,073 people who did not have this symptom of insomnia.
“The link between insomnia symptoms and these diseases was even stronger in younger adults and people who did not have high blood pressure at the start of the study, so future research should look especially at early detection and interventions aimed at these groups,” said study author Liming Li, MD, of Peking University in Beijing, China.
The results may be unsettling but they are also encouraging.
As Professor Li pointed out, it suggests that correcting sleep loss with behavioural interventions could go some way to warding off the threat of having a heart attack.
How to treat insomnia
According to the NHS, insomnia usually gets better by changing your sleeping habits.