If you’ve suffered a heart attack, it’s not just your heart you need to worry about. Unfortunately, depression and sleep issues come soon after for 15 to 30 percent of people who survive a cardiac arrest. Though these symptoms seem a likely consequence of the stress, a new study shows that insomnia and depression are the result of a change in brain chemicals following a heart attack.
Scientists found that two weeks after a heart attack, brain cells containing acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter for the nervous system, decrease in number. When the amount of acethylcholine dwindles, people often lose sleep. Moreover, this tiredness can directly impact a person’s mental health; as other studies have demonstrated, depression and insomnia are strongly linked.
Before you panic at the prospect of one health problem leading to three major ailments, it is important to note that the study was conducted on rats whose heart attacks were induced. More data will need to be gathered before firm conclusions can be made on the consequences of humans who suffer a heart attack. Still, this study does reinforce the need to take care of your body. With younger and younger Americans experiencing heart attacks, exercise and a proper diet are crucial in ensuring a healthy heart and head for years to come.