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Health Fusion: 2 common sleep disorders could be a deadly combo

Insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea can disrupt your life and undermine your health. If you have a combo of both sleep disorders, your risk of heart disease and dying may rise even more. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams checks out a new study and shares the researchers' recommendation for what to do if you have the dangerous combo.

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ROCHESTER — A combination of two common sleep disorders may increase your risk of heart disease and dying. The culprits? Insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Researchers from Flinders University in Australia looked at data from more than 5000 people over 15 years. Results of their study show that people with both insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea were two times more likely to have high blood pressure and 70% more likely to have cardiovascular disease than people who had only one or neither of the disorders.

“Given that these people are at higher risk of experiencing adverse health outcomes, it is important that people undergoing screening for one disorder should also be screened for the other,” says Dr. Bastien Lechat from Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute: Sleep Health.

If you have both conditions, the term the researchers use to describe the combo is "co-morbid insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea (COMISA)."

They recommend that all people undergoing screening for one of the sleep disorders should also be evaluated for the other. Treatments may help lower the health risks associated with both sleep disorders.


Both insomnia and OSA may cause daytime drowsiness and impaired function. People with insomnia have difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep. People with OSA may snore. They often stop breathing during the night and snort themselves awake. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website notes that approximately 22 million people have OSA and the disorder increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and depression.

The research is published in the European Respiratory Journal.
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For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at vwilliams@newsmd.com . Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

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Viv Williams hosts the NewsMD podcast and column, "Health Fusion." She is an Emmy (and other) award-winning health and medical reporter whose stories have run on TV, digital and newspaper outlets nationwide. Viv is passionate about boosting people's health and happiness by helping them access credible, reliable and research-based health information from top experts. She regularly interviews experts and patients from leading medical institutions, such as Mayo Clinic.
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