December 7, 2023

Insomnia Treatment Aimed at Reducing Cardiovascular Disease Risks, According to New Study

Insomnia, a common sleep disorder affecting millions of people worldwide, has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. To investigate whether insomnia treatment can reduce these risks, a professor of psychology at the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) has been awarded a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

The five-year project, named the Strengthening Hearts by Addressing Disrupted Sleep (SHADES) Mechanistic Trial, aims to recruit 200 patients with insomnia from eight primary-care clinics at Eskenazi Health. These patients will be randomly assigned to two groups and treated for six months. One group will receive modernized collaborative care for insomnia, which includes cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), either online, via telephone, or in person. The other group will receive standard primary care for insomnia with added benefits, such as education about sleep and sleep hygiene and regular visits to primary-care providers to monitor their symptoms.

The researchers will assess the impact of insomnia treatment on cardiovascular disease risk by measuring blood-based markers of systemic inflammation and metabolic dysregulation, as well as physiological measures of autonomic nervous system dysfunction. By monitoring these markers over the six-month period, the team hopes to observe improvements in cardiovascular risk factors, which have been shown in previous studies to be predictors of future heart attacks and strokes.

Professor Stewart and his colleagues believe that the CBT-I treatment will outperform standard care, leading to improvements in both sleep and biological mechanisms involved in cardiovascular disease development. This study builds on Stewart’s previous research on the relationship between depression and cardiovascular disease, which also focused on a modernized collaborative care approach.

To make treatment more accessible, the research team has implemented various strategies. Patients in the trial now have access to basic computer training and tablets, with unlimited data plans for those without internet access. The use of technology allows for convenient and remote treatment, with the option of in-person therapy if needed or preferred.

The ultimate goal of the SHADES trial, as well as other research projects conducted by Professor Stewart, is to enhance our understanding of the links between psychological factors, their treatment, and cardiovascular disease risk. This knowledge can then be used to develop new approaches to prevent cardiovascular disease.

The SHADES trial team comprises researchers from IUPUI, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indiana University School of Nursing, Eskenazi Health, University of Virginia, and University of California, Los Angeles. The Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute and Regenstrief Institute are also research partners in this study.

Insomnia is a prevalent sleep disorder that can have serious implications for cardiovascular health. By investigating the effectiveness of insomnia treatment in reducing cardiovascular disease risks, this study could pave the way for new approaches to prevent and manage cardiovascular disease.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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