People who struggle to fall asleep are more likely to suffer a stroke – and those under 50 are most at risk, according to a study.
Having one to four insomnia symptoms – which could be as mild as feeling tired in the morning – carried a 16 percent increased risk of suffering the disease where blood is cut off to the brain.
Sleep disorder symptoms linked to stroke included finding it hard to fall asleep, struggling to stay asleep, waking up too early and not being able to return to sleep, and not feeling rested in the morning.
Scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University in the United States found the stroke risk went up to 51 percent among those who had five to eight insomnia symptoms.
The sleep-stroke association was strongest among the under 50s – if they had five to eight insomnia signs they were nearly four times as likely to have a stroke than easy-sleepers.
Over-50s with the same number of symptoms had a 38 percent increased stroke risk versus their counterparts.
All the risks are increased even further among those with depression, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
Dr. Wendemi Sawadogo of Virginia Commonwealth University said, “There are many therapies that can help people improve the quality of their sleep, so determining which sleep problems lead to an increased risk of stroke may allow for earlier treatments or behavioral therapies for people who are having trouble sleeping and possibly reducing their risk of stroke later in life.”
“This difference in risk between these two age groups may be explained by the higher occurrence of stroke at an older age,” she said. “The list of stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes can grow as people age, making insomnia symptoms one of many possible factors.
“This striking difference suggests that managing insomnia symptoms at a younger age may be an effective strategy for stroke prevention,” Dr. Sawadogo added. “Future research should explore the reduction of stroke risk through management of sleeping problems.”
VCU spent nine years studying 31,26 people who had no history of stroke when they were picked. The average age was 61.
At the beginning of the research, participants were asked four sleep-related questions, about whether they find it hard to fall asleep, struggle to stay asleep, wake up too early and being unable to return to sleep, and whether they felt rested in the morning.
They were asked to respond with “most of the time,” “sometimes,” and “rarely and or never.”
Scores ranged from zero to eight, and a higher number indicated more severe sleep issues.
Of the 458 insomniac 50-year-olds, 27 had a stroke. Of the 654 who had five to eight symptoms, 33 had a stroke.
Of the 19,149 who had one to four symptoms, 1,300 had a stroke. Of the 5,695 with five to eight, 436 experienced one.
Meanwhile, of the 6,282 with no symptoms, 365 had a stroke in the study published in the journal Neurology.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
Edited by Kyana Jeanin Rubinfeld and Jessi Rexroad Shull