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CNN.com: Insomnia May Be Linked to Higher Risk of Heart Attack, Study Says

CNN.com recently interviewed Martha Gulati, MD, director of Preventive Cardiology and associate director of the Preventive and Rehabilitative Cardiac Center in the Smidt Heart Institute, about a rise in heart attacks among individuals with insomnia.

A recent study published in the journal Clinical Cardiology showed that people with insomnia are 1.69 times more likely to suffer a heart attack. Gulati, who was not involved in the research, told CNN.com that this is the most common sleep disorder and a noted risk factor for women with ischemic heart disease, which involves a buildup of plaque in the blood vessels.

“We see it probably in 1 in 10 patients in the United States. It is my impression that almost everyone experiences insomnia at some point in their life,” Gulati, associate director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center, told CNN.com. “The estimate is that 1 in 2 adults experience it … maybe in the short term because of stressful moments.”

Researchers also found that how long a participant slept each night, whether it was less than five hours or more than nine, could increase the chances of a heart attack. Gulati explained how cortisol, a hormone responsible for regulating the body’s response to stress, plays a role in all of this.

“What really happens when you’re not getting enough sleep is that your cortisol gets out of whack,” Gulati told CNN.com. “If you’re having sleeping problems, we know that your blood pressure is more elevated at night.” She said an imbalance like this can lead to the development of heart disease.

Click here to read the complete story from CNN.com and click here to read Gulati’s recent interview with The Washington Post about women’s heart health.