Nightmares: An Independent Risk Factor for Heart Disease?
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Frequent nightmares are independently linked to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), new research shows.

In what researchers describe as "surprising" findings, results from a large study of relatively young military veterans showed those who had nightmares two or more times per week had significantly increased risks for hypertension, myocardial infarction (MI), or other heart problems.

The study included 3468 veterans (77% male) with a mean age of 38 years. Nearly one third (31%) met criteria for PTSD and 33% self-reported having at least one cardiovascular condition, such as heart problems, hypertension, stroke and MI.

Nightmare frequency and severity was assessed using the Davidson Trauma Scale. Nightmares were considered frequent if they occurred two or more times per week and moderate-to-severe if they were at least moderately distressing.

About 31% of veterans reported having frequent nightmares and 35% reported moderately distressing nightmares over the past week.

After adjusting for age, race, and sex, frequent nightmares were associated with hypertension, heart problems, and MI.

Associations between frequent nightmares and hypertension and heart problems remained significant after further adjusting for smoking, depression, and PTSD.

"These cross-sectional findings set the stage for future research examining the possibility that nightmares may confer cardiovascular disease risks beyond those conferred by PTSD diagnosis alone," researchers said.

Source: https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article-abstract/43/Supplement_1/A309/5846847?redirectedFrom=fulltext
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