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10:44 AM

Fox 11: Raj Khandwalla, MD, Discusses Insomnia and Heart Disease Link

Fox 11’s Good Day LA recently interviewed cardiologist Raj Khandwalla, MD, director of cardiovascular education at the Smidt Heart Institute, about a genetic link connecting insomnia with heart disease.

The study, recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Genetics, specifically looked at 57 genes associated with both insomnia and heart disease. Findings suggest that depression and heart disease are results of persistent insomnia. Khandwalla, who was not part of that study, provided expert commentary.

“Insomnia is waking up in the middle of the night and having trouble sleeping for an extended period of time,” Khandwalla told Good Day LA.

And, according to Khandwalla, insomnia can be caused by a variety of reasons and can affect people of all ages, although insomnia increases in incidence as people get older. Prolonged insomnia, Khandwalla said, can lead to a variety of different health conditions, including depression, hypertension and heart disease.

But Khandwalla assured viewers that just because you had a bad night rest a few nights ago, it doesn’t mean you are destined to have a heart attack.

“People can have trouble sleeping for a variety of reasons – people could be stressed out, they could have changes in their hormones like menopause, or in my case – they could have a two-year old that wakes up at two in the morning,” said Khandwalla. “But real insomnia is talking about sleep issues lasting months, or years.”

Other symptoms of insomnia include lying awake on most nights, not staying asleep, waking up very early, feeling like you haven’t slept or falling asleep during the day.

“As a cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai, I always talk to my patients about sleep,” said Khandwalla. “It’s very important, if you’re having trouble sleeping, to talk to your doctor about sleep. Bad sleep can cause heart disease and heart disease can cause bad sleep.”

Watch the complete Good Day LA story.

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Who Should Seek Genetic Testing for Heart Disease?