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Get Some Sleep, Give Your Heart a Break

Sleep problems are commonly found in people with heart disease. For example, one out of three people with high blood pressure has sleep apnea. Evidence also shows that people with heart disease have an increased chance of having a sleep disorder and vice versa.


  • Restless Leg Syndrome: Symptoms include multiple arousals during sleep, excessive daytime drowsiness, aching muscles upon awakening and crawling or restless sensations in the legs. This condition is often mistaken for insomnia.
  • Sleep Apnea: Symptoms include periods of interrupted breathing, as frequently as several hundred times during sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, morning headaches and personality changes and others. Causes of apnea include a blockage of the upper airway and diseases of the central nervous system.
  • Narcolepsy: Symptoms include sudden and uncontrollable attacks of excessive sleepiness during the day. This disorder causes an individual to sleep at inappropriate times such as while driving, eating or in meetings. Common complaints include frequent, vivid nightmares or hallucinations upon falling asleep, sudden muscular weakness when angry, surprised or amused and momentary paralysis upon wakening.
  • Parasomnia: Symptoms include somnambulism (sleep-walking), nightmares and night terrors.
  • Others: Seizures, bruxism (grinding of the teeth) are some other conditions that cause improper sleep patterns.

Diagnosing sleep disorders often requires a sleep study, which involves patients spending the night in an accredited sleep center. Treatment options depend on the cause of the disorder, but can involve natural remedies, prescription medication and equipment.