In the study, using the drug continuously for three months increased Alzheimer's risk by 51 percent. (Representational Image)klesta/Flickr

Certain drugs used to treat sleep-related problems can increase the risk of heart attack, a new study reveals.

While popping even four pills of Zolpidem (sold as Stilnoct in the UK, Ambien in the US) with a dose of 35 milligrams a year increased risk of cardiac events by 20 percent, taking nearly 60 pills yearly escalated the risk of getting a heart attack by 50 percent, the Daily Mail reported.

Researchers from the China Medical University in Taiwan reached the conclusion after closely analysing 5,000 heart attack victims and comparing them with 20,000 healthy people. 

"The risk of an acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) was greatly increased with zolpidem exposure," the report, presented at the American Heart Association annual meeting in Dallas, Texas, said, Express, UK reported.

In addition to the risk to heart, the drug's use widely contributed to the deadly 'aortic dissection'; a medical condition caused by a tear or damage in the inner wall of aorta, the main blood vessel that transports blood from the heart.

An aortic dissection can affect normal blood flow throughout the body and can cause damages to different organs including brain, heart, kidneys, legs and intestines. According to Mayo Clinic in the US, it can widely contribute to internal bleeding and death, stroke and paralysis, and aortic valve damage.

Concerns about the safety of taking sleeping pills have been making the rounds lately. In 2012, Daniel F. Kripke from the University of California, San Diego and colleagues, who have been analysing the hidden risks associated with sleeping pills from 1975, looked at 10,529 people taking hypnotic sleeping pills and found that taking even 18 sleeping pills a year was enough to increase the risk of death by 3.6 times. Popping more than 132 sleeping pills per year increased risk of death by five times and cancer by 35 percent.