Are sleeping pills dangerous for heart patients

Sleeping pills: Dangerous for people with heart failure

Disturbed sleep

For the study, the scientist and his colleagues observed a total of 111 heart failure patients who were admitted to the Tokyo Yamate Medical Center between 2011 and 2013. The study authors divided the participants into two groups. The first group consisted of 47 patients whose cardiac output was still normal. Their hearts were already weakened, but the organ was able to compensate for this - for example by enlarging. In the 64 patients in the second group, the heart was no longer able to do this - its ejection rate was already reduced.

After 180 days at the latest, the scientists examined the patients again. A total of 39 participants survived the study period without major complications, 24 with and 15 without reduced cardiac output. The others had been hospitalized for complications during the study period - others died.

Eight times the risk

An analysis of the data showed that some of the subjects who had been prescribed the sleeping pill benzodiazepine during their first stay in hospital had an eight times higher risk of cardiovascular complications afterwards. Interestingly, these were of all patients in the first group, whose cardiac output was a little better.

The scientists have several possible explanations for the phenomenon ready: The sleeping pills could directly reduce cardiac output. However, it is also conceivable that the disturbed breathing during sleep, from which many heart failure patients suffer, is further worsened by the medication. That could also damage the heart.

Dramatically increased risk

"Our study clearly shows that sleeping pills dramatically increase the risk of cardiovascular events in people with heart failure," says Setoguvci. In view of the fact that many heart failure patients have sleep disorders, the connection needs to be further investigated in larger studies.

The phenomenon did not appear in the patients with reduced ejection efficiency. The researchers cannot yet explain why.

One thing can already be said: Doctors who treat heart failure patients should be reluctant to prescribe sleeping pills. At the very least, however, patients who take sleeping pills should be monitored very carefully.

Setoguchi M, et al .: Sleeping pills increase CV events in heart failure patients, Heart Failure 2014 - Congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). May 17-20, 2014, Athens, Greece. Abstract: P450