Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Not getting enough sleep could lead to a heart attack, a new study says.
People with obstructive sleep apnea were three times as likely to receive a diagnosis of heart failure when they enrolled in the study, according to the research published Friday in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
The patients also had roughly twice the risk of a heart attack, heart failure or stroke following the study.
"Multiple studies from our group have shown that patients with moderate to severe OSA throughout the world can be categorized into specific subtypes based on their reported symptoms," Diego R. Mazzotti, a sleep researcher at the University of Pennsylvania and study lead, said in a news release. "However, until now, it was unclear whether these subtypes had different clinical consequences, especially in regard to future cardiovascular risk."
The patients, all age 40 and older, had moderate to severe OSA and were followed for 12 years. Prior to the study, they reported symptoms like snoring, fatigue, drowsy driving, sleepiness in the daytime, and difficulty falling and staying asleep.
OSA occurs when a person stops breathing or has reduced breathing at least 15 times per hour while sleeping.
An earlier study says that about 90 percent of kids in the U.S. with sleep apnea go undiagnosed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of Americans don't get enough sleep.
Since sleep apnea is a risk factor for stroke, medical professionals recommend easing the condition using CPAP therapy.
"Even without further research, clinicians should recognize that patients with OSA who complain of feeling tired when they wake up and sleepy during the day and have a high score on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease," Mazzotti said.