-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
THURSDAY, May 30 (HealthDay News) -- People who experience
post-traumatic stress disorder following a heart attack may find it
hard to get a good night's sleep, a new study indicates.
The researchers from Columbia University Medical Center noted
that poor sleep is typical among post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD) patients, which may help explain the association between
heart attack-induced PTSD and worse sleep quality.
The study's first author, Jonathan Shaffer, and colleagues at
Columbia's Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health examined the
link between PTSD and sleep in almost 200 patients who suffered a
heart attack. They found that the more PTSD symptoms people
experienced following a heart attack, the worse their self-reported
sleep was in the month after their heart attack.
PTSD symptoms include anxiety, avoidance behaviors and
flashbacks to bad memories.
Worse PTSD symptoms were also tied to poorer sleep quality,
shorter sleeping time, interrupted sleep, use of sleeping pills and
daytime sleepiness, the investigators found.
Gender also seemed to play a role. The research, published in
the current issue of
Annals of Behavioral Medicine, revealed that women were more
likely to be affected by poor sleep following a heart attack.
People with poor sleep after a heart attack were also likely to
have more symptoms of depression and a higher body-mass index (a
measurement that takes into account height and weight), according
to the report. These patients were also less likely to be Hispanic,
the findings showed.
The study authors noted that functional problems with the
"autonomic nervous system" -- the part of the nervous system that
regulates involuntary bodily functions, such as breathing -- is
associated with both PTSD and disrupted sleep. The researchers
suggested that nervous system dysfunction could be a common cause
behind both problems.
More studies are needed to investigate the link between heart
attack-induced PTSD and poor sleep, as well as the risk for future
heart attacks, the team suggested in the news release. While the
study findings revealed an association, they did not prove a
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about
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