Screening for common sleep complaints in routine clinical practice may help identify patients at risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, results of a prospective study suggest.

Loud snoring, difficulty falling sleep and unrefreshing sleep were significantly associated with developing the metabolic syndrome (P<0.05), Wendy M. Troxel, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues reported in Sleep.

The metabolic syndrome is a group of five obesity-related risk factors – excess abdominal fat, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, high BP and high blood pressure ­– known to increase risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Continue Reading

The researchers analyzed data from 2,000 patients who were participating in Heart SCORE ­– an ongoing, community-based study, involving adults aged 45 to 74 years. During the three-year follow-up period, 14% of patients developed the metabolic syndrome.

Among the 812 patients included in the final sample, those who reported frequent loud snoring were more than twice as likely to develop the metabolic syndrome than those who did not (OR=2.30), the researchers determined. Those who reported difficulty falling asleep had and 80% higher risk (OR=1.81), and those who said their sleep was unrefreshing had a 70% higher risk (OR=1.71).

After adjusting for loud snoring, difficulty falling asleep remained a significant predictor of metabolic syndrome (OR=1.78; 95% CI: 1.05-3.02), whereas unrefreshing sleep showed only marginal significance (OR=1.56; 95% CI: 0.96-2.53).

An additional subanalysis to adjust for apnea-hyponea index involving 290 participants revealed that loud snoring remained the only significant independent predictor of metabolic syndrome (OR=3.01) and difficulty falling asleep was only marginal (OR=1.91).

“It was rather striking that the effects of difficulty falling asleep and loud snoring were largely independent of one another,” Troxel said in a press release.

The researchers encouraged clinicians to be aware of the health risks associated with these common sleep symptoms while assessing patients.