Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a condition on the rise. Individuals diagnosed with the condition are known to have increased risk of cardiovascular disease and demonstrate higher mortality rate than those with normal blood pressure.
Individuals can offset their risk of developing hypertension through engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviours such as increasing daily activity and eating a healthy and nutritious diet. Although hypertension can lead to symptoms such as headaches, blurred vision, nose bleeds and shortness of breath often those with the condition display no symptoms at all and have to rely on identification through check-ups with their GP. Due to risks associated with hypertension it is best to identify development of the condition as early as possible in order to allow implementation of best management practices.
New research has suggested a potential correlation which may aid early identification of the development of a condition. A study published in the American Heart Association’s Hypertension journal demonstrated a significant correlation between insomnia and hypertension (Fernandez-Mendoza et al, 2012). In the study which analysed 1741 adults, those that self-reported to have been experiencing chronic insomnia, classified as persistent for a duration of over one year, were significantly more likely to develop hypertension than those with normal or even poor sleep quality. Results were independent of conditions such as obesity and diabetes mellitus which are known to have an adverse impact on sleep quality and duration.
Identification of this correlation may aid early identification of the development of hypertension thus aiding diagnosis and treatment. Severity of insomnia may also correlate with the extent of the development of hypertension aiding analysis of the condition and thus informing on best treatment practices for those diagnosed, potentially improving management of the condition and subsequent health and wellbeing of individuals.
So what does this mean for us? If you’re experiencing sleep disturbances or insomnia it is certainly worth addressing this and not a bad idea to get your blood pressure checked. Although poor sleep quality was not found to correlate to prevalence of hypertension, chronic insomnia was. It is best to be safe and check your blood pressure.
Jack Barton (Researcher, Rescon Ltd)
Fernandez-Mendoza, J., Vgontzas, A. N., Liao, D., Shaffer, M. L., Vela-Bueno, A., et al. (2012). Insomnia With Objective Short Sleep Duration and Incident Hypertension The Penn State Cohort. Hypertension, 60(4), 929-935.