Insomnia can be a major cause of various heart problems, including heart attack and stroke, a study warned. According to the research, trouble falling or staying asleep, daytime dysfunction due to lack of sleep and early morning awakening are associated with various cardiovascular diseases (CVD).

The study that was published in the medical journal Neurology on Tuesday looked into the association between various insomniac symptoms and the risk of heart problems among half a million adults in China.  For the research, the study team observed a total of 487, 200 adults aged between 30 and 79 years for 9.6 years.

All the participants in the study were from various regions in China. The researchers started observing them after assessing their self-reported sleep problems for at least three weeks. Then, the participants were followed-up for various heart problems until 2016. The details about various heart problems were gathered from the databases of national health insurance and disease registries.

At the beginning of the study, none of the participants had any signs of coronary heart disease, stroke or cancer. During the follow-up period, 130, 032 cases of CVD were reported. Some of the major heart problems the insomniacs experienced were ischemic heart disease, ischemic stroke, and hemorrhagic stroke.

The study mainly focused on three main symptoms of insomnia- trouble in focusing due to lack of sleep, trouble in falling or staying asleep as well as getting up too early in the morning and struggling to sleep again.  People who experienced all three symptoms had a 22% higher risk of ischemic heart disease, an 18% increased risk of cardiovascular disease and a 10% greater risk of ischemic stroke.

The association between insomnia and heart problems was higher in younger adults and those who had no signs of hypertension. "Individual and coexisting insomnia symptoms are independent risk factors for CVD incidence, especially among young adults or adults who have not developed hypertension", the researchers noted.

"These results suggest that if we can target people who are having trouble sleeping with behavioral therapies, it’s possible that we could reduce the number of cases of stroke, heart attack and other diseases later down the line," study author Liming Li from the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Peking University Health Science Center School of Public Health in Beijing and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing said in a statement.

Insomnia is a major health problem faced by many people worldwide. Nearly one in every four people is believed to experience this sleep problem. While stress and anxiety are said to be the two major causes for it, unhealthy sleeping habits and certain biological conditions can also lead to this condition.