Sleep disorder combination can be deadly

Sleep disorder combination can be deadly

Insomnia and sleep apnea can be an especially deadly combination. New research shows people who have both disorders are more likely to have heart problems and a greater risk of dying than those without either condition.

That’s the upshot of findings by Australian university researchers, who studied the 15-year medical histories of more than 5,000 U.S. residents. Obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia are the two most common sleep disorders, affecting 10% to 30% of the population.

Until now, little was known about the negative effects of having both conditions. For those who do, health outcomes are consistently worse than those who have neither condition, or just one of them.

People with both conditions were 70% more likely to have high blood pressure than those who had neither sleep apnea nor insomnia. Death was also significantly more frequent: The two conditions increased mortality by 47% compared with those who had neither.

Researchers said the study is the first of its kind to assess mortality risk among people with insomnia and sleep apnea. It’s also a cautionary tale for doctors and patients: Those who are getting screened for one condition should also be assessed for the other.

While further study is needed to determine what might be causing the higher risk of death, the researchers say the findings underscore the need for doctors to ensure treatments are working properly. Among those with sleep apnea, the compliance rate for using the equipment to treat it can range from 30% to 60%.

If insomnia or sleep apnea is making you lose rest, ask your doctor about the possibility of dual conditions. There could be more than lost sleep at stake.

Related Episodes