Insomnia may up risk of irregular heartbeat, stroke

New York: Insomnia may raise your risks of an irregular and often rapid heartbeat, known as atrial fibrillation or arrhythmia, that can further increase your risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications, researchers have found.

Insomnia is having trouble falling asleep, not getting enough sleep, or having poor sleep.

Poor sleep is also known to increase the risk for high blood pressure, obesity and stroke — key heart disease risk factors, said researchers from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, US.

The results showed that people diagnosed with insomnia had a 29 per cent higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation compared to those without insomnia.

People who reported frequent night-time awakening — which puts extra stress on the heart’s chambers — had about a 26 per cent higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation compared to those who did not wake up a lot.

Having less rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep than other sleep phases during the night is also linked to higher chances of developing atrial fibrillation.

“By examining the actual characteristics of sleep, such as how much REM sleep you get, it points us toward a more plausible mechanism. There could be something particular about how sleep impacts the autonomic nervous system,” said lead study author Matt Christensen, a medical student at the University of Michigan.

The autonomic nervous system plays a major role in controlling heart rate and blood pressure, Christensen added.

Getting enough physical activity, avoiding too much caffeine can enhance sleep quality and may also help prevent arrhythmia, the researchers suggested.

The preliminary research was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2016 in Louisiana, recently.