Another Scary Health Risk Of Insomnia

04/04/2014 08:23 am ET | Updated Apr 04, 2014
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People with insomnia may be more likely to experience a stroke, according to a new study.

Researchers from Taiwan found that for adults between ages 18 and 34, the incidence of stroke is eight times higher among people with insomnia than people without the sleep disorder. However, this risk seemed to decrease after age 35.

The study shows the importance of seeking treatment for younger people with insomnia, the researchers said.

"We feel strongly that individuals with chronic insomnia, particularly younger persons, see their physician to have stroke risk factors assessed and, when indicated, treated appropriately," study researcher Ya-Wen Hsu, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Chia Nan University of Pharmacy and Science and the Department of Medical Research at Chi-Mei Medical Center in Taiwan, said in a statement.

The study, published in the journal Stroke, included health records over four years from more than 21,000 people with insomnia and 64,000 people without insomnia in Taiwan. The researchers divided the people with insomnia up into groups, based on their insomnia: chronic/persistent insomnia was defined as having trouble falling or maintaining sleep for one to six months, relapse insomnia was having insomnia return during the four-year study period after being free of it for more than six months, and remission was going from having insomnia to not having insomnia anytime during the study period.

Researchers found that insomnia was associated with a 54 percent increased risk of being hospitalized for stroke over the four-year study period. They also found that stroke incidence was higher for people with persistent insomnia, compared with those who were in remission.

The study only showed an association between stroke and insomnia, and did not show that one caused the other; however, researchers said that insomnia is known to affect health via inflammation, blood pressure and glucose tolerance, which could all potentially affect stroke risk.

Previously, a study presented at the SLEEP conference in 2012 showed that regularly getting too little sleep -- fewer than six hours a night -- was associated with a quadrupled risk of stroke, compared with getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

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