Coronary Heart Disease: It’s Impact on Sleep

April 24th, 2019 by Vishal Saini

Sleep is an indispensable part of human body, which is very crucial for smooth and proper functioning of the body. Sleep can be affected by various adverse factors, which could be illness, injury, environment change, hormonal disturbances or aging.

Coronary heart disease is one of the factors responsible for significantly affecting sleep in patients with heart conditions. Coronary heart disease means narrowing of the blood vessels which supply blood and oxygen to the heart muscles. Common symptoms of coronary heart disease are but not limited to pain in the chest and arms, sweating, dizziness, breathlessness (just to list a few of them).

What affect does sleep apnea have on coronary heart disease patients?

Many of you must be wondering about how can a heart attack cause sleep disturbances in the survivors. Research studies have shown that there is a tendency to develop sleep apnea/sleep disturbances after any cardiac event, which in turn can increase the risk of having another cardiac event or can worsen the cardiac health. A recent research study has shown a U-formed relationship between nighttime sleep and coronary heart disease. That means, sleeping for long hours at night (more than 8 hours) or very less sleep (for less than 4 hours), both can lead to another heart attack in the future. The results of a research study done on Taiwanese population confirmed the fact that sleep time of less than 4 hours in people who suffered coronary disease can increase the risk of death by 34%. The quality of sleep/sleep apnea in coronary heart disease patients has been used as a prognostic tool by physicians to determine the outcome of the coronary heart disease and to plan further action.

Sleep disturbances in acute coronary syndrome patients

Acute coronary syndrome occurs when there is a decrease in blood supply to the heart due to the blockage of arteries. A recent research study which compiled the data from 26 various studies supported the fact that sleep disturbances have a negative impact on patients with acute coronary syndrome. According to the data, the total sleep time and sleep efficiency is greatly reduced immediately after acute coronary syndrome (heart attack). Sleep latency( time taken by a person to fall asleep) is also prolonged after the cardiac event. Moreover, it is accompanied by frequent awakenings at night. These changes in sleep after cardiac event is evident in both patients with and without obstructive sleep apnea. These sleep problems can be precisely diagnosed by taking simple and affordable tests like home sleep testing.

Sleep disturbances in stable coronary heart disease

Data from multiple research study was compiled to see the impact of coronary heart disease on sleep. Polysomnography (sleep apnea test/home sleep test) was used in patient population including people from cardiac rehabilitation, stable post angina patients and post PCI patients (stent placement). The results showed a marked decrease in total sleep time, increase in night time wakefulness and poor sleep efficiency. Patients after acute coronary syndrome have experienced anxiety along with inability to sleep.

Conclusion

Acute coronary syndrome and coronary heart disease are major cardiac events which can cause a significant impact on the lives of people. It can cause a major impact on sleep quality of the person causing delayed onset of sleep and multiple awakenings which can provoke anxiety further causing stress on the heart. Home sleep testing is an effective tool to detect any sleep disturbances one may have after a traumatic event like heart attack. It is more convenient and comfortable as it can be done in the comfort of your own home. Early detection of sleep problems is a crucial step in preventing the occurrence of any major cardiac event in the future. A good quality sleep is the key to a healthy brain and a healthy heart.

If you have any signs of sleep disturbances which are concerning you, don’t wait, talk to your sleep specialist right away.