Poor sleep a heart health risk

Poor sleep a heart health risk

Are you getting enough quality sleep? Are you sleeping longer than you should? Poor sleep habits may put you at higher risk for early signs of heart disease when compared to those who get adequate, good quality sleep, according to a study published in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.

It is becoming more widely accepted that poor or not enough sleep is a common problem and a probable source of poor health, including signs of disease, such as heart attack,

The researchers from the Centre for Cohort Studies at Kangbuk Samsun Hospital, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea.studied more than 47,000 young and middle-aged adults who completed a sleep questionnaire and had tests to detect early coronary artery lesions and measure arterial stiffness. Early coronary lesions were detected as the presence of calcium in the coronary arteries and arterial stiffness was assessed by measuring the velocity, or speed, of the pulse wave between the arteries in the upper arm and ankle.

After measuring coronary calcium, researchers found:

  • Adults who sleep five or fewer hours a day have 50 percent more calcium in their coronary arteries than those who sleep seven hours a day.
  • Those who sleep nine or more hours a day have more than 70 percent more coronary calcium compared to those who sleep seven hours.
  • Adults who reported poor sleep quality had more than 20 percent more coronary calcium than those who reported good sleep quality.

The study also observed a similar pattern when they measured arterial stiffness, another risk factor for heart disease and a contributor to high blood pressure.  Adults with poor sleep quality have stiffer arteries than those who sleep seven hours a day or had good sleep quality. Overall, they saw the lowest levels of vascular disease in adults sleeping seven hours a day and reporting good sleep quality.

A common question is ‘how much sleep do I need?’  This study’s findings highlight the importance of adequate sleep quantity and quality to maintain cardiovascular health and it seems that 7-8 hours is the key number for most adults.

If you are not getting  7 hours sleep or your sleep quality is poor making some changes to your sleep habits and bed-time routine would be a wise move.

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David Beard
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