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Poor Sleep Quality Could be Linked to Increased Risk of a Heart Flutter

The researchers analyzed four different studies in total, starting with the global Health E-Heart Study. After looking at the study's 4,553 participants, the team found that those who woke more frequently during the nighttime often also had a diagnosis of AF.

AFP Relaxnews

Updated:June 27, 2018, 5:02 PM IST
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Poor Sleep Quality Could be Linked to Increased Risk of a Heart Flutter
Representative Image

New US research has found that poor sleep quality could be an important risk factor for atrial fibrillation, an irregular, rapid heart rate also known as a heart flutter.

Led by investigator Gregory M. Marcus at the University of California, along with researchers from other universities and centers around the USA, the study is the first of its kind to demonstrate a relationship between poor sleep quality unrelated to sleep apnea and a higher risk of atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common heart rhythm disorder in the world.

The researchers analyzed four different studies in total, starting with the global Health E-Heart Study. After looking at the study's 4,553 participants, the team found that those who woke more frequently during the nighttime often also had a diagnosis of AF.

To validate the findings, the team then looked at the Cardiovascular Health Study, which included 5,703 participants who were followed for a median of 11.6 years. This time they found that those who suffered from frequent nighttime awakening had a 33% greater risk of AF, even after the team had taken into account other potentially influencing factors.

In another group of 1,127 participants the researchers found that less REM sleep was associated with a higher risk of AF, and after looking at the medical records on 14,330,651 California residents who were followed for a median 3.9 years they also found that an insomnia diagnosis predicted a 36% increased risk of AF.

The team found no evidence that sleep duration was a risk factor for AF, but said that they consistently found sleep disruption to be an important risk factor.

"These data provide compelling evidence that sleep quality itself, even independent of sleep apnea, is an important determinant of AF risk," commented Dr Marcus. "While there are several available treatments for AF, prevention of the disease would be ideal. The good news is that sleep quality can be modifiable and is something that at least to some degree is under the control of the individual. It's possible that improving sleep hygiene, such as performing regular exercise, getting to bed at a reasonable hour on a regular basis, and avoiding viewing screens before bed as well as caffeine later in the day, might help stave off AF."

Symptoms of AF include chest pain, a 'racing' or unusual heartbeat palpitations, weakness, fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness, and shortness of breath. The condition can significantly reduce an individual's quality of life, as well as increase the risk of other condition such as stroke, dementia, heart attack, kidney disease, and death.

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