Recently, Chinese researchers looked at 5,000 heart attack patients and they found that taking just a couple of months’ worth of Zolpidem (Ambien) ? the prescription sleep aid ? may be enough to increase your risk of a heart attack by more than 20 per cent!
Little benefits versus high risks
Previously, Zolpidem has been linked with some bizarre and terrifying experiences. Those taking the drug have reported waking up the next morning with sweet wrappers in bed, kitchen worktops covered with flour and even the gas ring burning… yet had no memory of having got out of bed.
One woman gained more than 3st over seven months ? she’d been sleepwalking to the fridge. Another woke up to find herself painting the front door.
A joint report by UK and Australian drug watchdogs detailed 240 cases of sleepwalking, amnesia and hallucinations among people taking Zolpidem.
Some experts believe official reports of side-effects for any drug represent just one to ten per cent of the true total and that most episodes go unreported.
It is estimated that around a million Britons regularly use sleeping pills. Each year half a million prescriptions for Zolpidem are handed out in the UK. So should we be concerned?
Without a doubt!
To start with, a 2007 study by the American National Institutes of Health, found that Zolpidem made participants fall asleep only 12.8 minutes faster than placebo drugs, and helped patients sleep for just 11 minutes longer.
However, when asked how much they had been helped, patients themselves said they’d got an extra 32 minutes sleep. The reason for this misperception, researchers suggested, was because sleeping pills interfere with memory formation so you simply forget all the tossing and turning.
Memory loss and sleepwalking are one thing, but based on the findings of the most recent Chinese study, getting half an hour’s more sleep (at most!) is certainly not worth the risks involved in taking this drug.
The Chinese researchers found that taking just FOUR Zolpidem pills a year increases heart attack risk by a whopping 20 per cent!
Frankly, this pill sounds like a nightmare in a bottle.
Researchers say that if taken regularly, Zolpidem could even boost your risk of a torn aorta or “aortic dissection.” This deadly condition can kill you in just a few minutes, even if you get immediate medical attention.
Now, of course, Zolpidem’s manufacturer is talking itself in circles trying to defend this potentially dangerous drug. Then again, what do you expect?
If you’re having a tough time getting enough sleep, give natural breakthroughs like tart cherry juice ? rich in melatonin, known to aid sleep ? a try, because if you start popping too many Zolpidem, it just may turn out your lights for good.
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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
Sleeping pill Stilnoct can increase the risk of heart attacks, scientists claim (dailymail.co.uk)