Insomnia is associated with an increased risk of subsequent stroke, especially among younger adults, according to a study published online in Stroke.

Ming-Ping Wu, M.D., Ph.D., from Chi-Mei Medical Center in Tainan, Taiwan, and colleagues examined insomnia in relation to subsequent stroke using data from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database. A total of 21,438 individuals with insomnia and 64,314 age- and sex-matched individuals without insomnia were followed over four years for hospitalization for stroke. Patterns of insomnia were identified and the risk of stroke was examined for different insomnia patterns.

The researchers found that individuals with insomnia had a significantly increased risk of developing stroke compared to those without insomnia (hazard ratio, 1.54). The three-year cumulative incidence rate of stroke was increased for those with persistent insomnia compared with those in remission (P = 0.024). The incidence rate ratio for stroke in those with versus those without insomnia was highest for individuals aged 18 to 34 years (incidence rate ratio, 8.06).

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“Insomnia predisposes individuals to increased risk of stroke and this association is profound among young adults,” the authors write. “Our results underscore the clinical importance of identifying and treating insomnia. A novel behavioral intervention targeting insomnia that may prevent stroke should be explored.”