Insomnia linked to up to 51 percent higher risk of strokes

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People suffering from insomnia may have as much as a 51 percent greater chance of having a stroke than those who do not have trouble sleeping, according to a study published in the journal Neurology.

For nearly a decade, the study tracked 31,126 people, age 61 on average and with no history of stroke at the start of the study. In that time, 2,101 strokes were recorded.

Insomnia symptoms reported by the participants included having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep and waking too early. Comparing participants who did and did not have signs of the sleep disorder, the researchers found that the degree of risk for stroke rose as the number of symptoms increased.

People with one to four insomnia symptoms were found to be 16 percent more likely to have had a stroke than were those with no symptoms, whereas a stroke was 51 percent more likely for people experiencing five to eight symptoms. The connection was stronger for those participants under age 50.

The findings do not prove that insomnia causes strokes but rather, as the researchers wrote, the study “identified insomnia symptoms as a risk factor for stroke,” meaning they increase the chance of having a stroke “and suggest that increased awareness and management of insomnia symptoms would likely contribute to preventing stroke occurrence.”

Health experts consider insomnia a common sleep disorder; it reportedly affects about a third of adults worldwide – women more often than men, and older people more so than younger ones. Common causes include stress at work or home, emotional distress, money problems, inactivity, and use of substances such as caffeine, tobacco and alcohol. Treatment for insomnia usually starts with lifestyle changes to address these causes and sometimes includes therapy or medication.



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