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Insomnia Raises Stroke Risk

Update Date: Apr 03, 2014 04:21 PM EDT

Insomnia is a disorder that prevents people from sleeping and can be extremely detrimental to one's health. Several studies have tied sleep deprivation to health conditions such as fatigue and cognitive impairment. In a new study, researchers found that insomnia might also be associated with an increased risk of stroke.

"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," said study author 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. "Our findings also highlight the clinical importance of screening for insomnia at younger ages. Treating insomnia is also very important, whether by medication or cognitive therapy."

For this study, the researchers randomly examined more than 21,000 people diagnosed with insomnia and compared them to 64,000 people who did not have insomnia. The participants were all from Taiwan. The researchers grouped people according to different types of insomnia. After a follow-up of four years, the team noted that 583 insomniacs and 962 of the people without insomnia had been hospitalized for a stroke.

Based from this data, the researchers found that insomnia increased the risk of suffering from subsequent hospitalization due to stroke by 54 percent over the time span of four years. For the age group of 18 to 34, stroke risk was eight times higher in insomniacs in comparison to people without the sleeping disorder. Insomniacs with diabetes also had a greater risk of stroke.

"Individuals should not simply accept insomnia as a benign, although difficult, condition that carries no major health risks," Hsu said. "They should seek medical evaluation of other possible risk factors that might contribute to stroke."

The study was published in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke.

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