Thursday, March 29, 2012


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Getting too little sleep – or even too much – appears to spell trouble for the heart.

New data reveal that adults who get less than six hours of sleep a night are at significantly greater risk of stroke, heart attack and congestive heart failure.

Even those who reportedly sleep more than eight hours a night have a higher prevalence of heart problems, namely chest pain (angina) and coronary artery disease, a narrowing of the blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart.

The research paper“Sleep Patterns and Prevalence of Cardiovascular Outcomes- Analysis of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey” was presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 61st Annual Scientific Session.

Analyses of 3,019 patients over the age of 45 years who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) showed that people getting too little sleep were two times more likely to have a stroke or heart attack and 1.6 times more likely to have congestive heart failure.

Those reporting more than eight hours of sleep a night were two times more likely to have angina and 1.1 times more likely to have coronary artery disease.

“We now have an indication that sleep can impact heart health, and it should be a priority,” said Rohit R. Arora, MD, FACC, chairman of cardiology and professor of medicine, the Chicago Medical School, and the study’s principal investigator. “Based on these findings, it seems getting six to eight hours of sleep everyday probably confers the least risk for cardiovascular disease over the long term.”

Insufficient sleep has previously been linked to the hyper-activation of the sympathetic nervous system, glucose intolerance, diabetes and an increase in cortisone levels, blood pressure, resting heart rate and inflammatory markers – all of which are associated with cardiovascular disease. However, researchers are still unclear as to why longer sleep duration might be linked to heart problems.

Dr. Arora speculates that the people sleeping more than eight hours, who report chest pains to their doctor, may have been given a greater clinical workup than people getting less than six hours of sleep, who are not presenting chest pains, which may explain why there are more significant cardiovascular events in this group; however, this needs to be evaluated in future long-term studies. In addition, unknown factors not yet elucidated and other co-morbid conditions like diabetes mellitus, obesity or hypertension may cause higher risk in those sleeping under six hours.

Dr. Arora says larger prospective studies are needed to confirm these findings and, if proven, to determine whether asking about sleep patterns presents a cost-effective way to further screen and identify patients who may be at high risk for heart disease.

The above story is based on the March 25, 2012 news release by American College of Cardiology.

Read our earlier report

Too Little or Too Much Sleep Harmful

Sleeping either less than 7 hours or more than 8 hours may be a risk factor for an array of common medical problems, including weight gain, diabetes and hypertension .

Go to ’Search This Blog’ on the right hand column and type ‘SLEEP’ for more thatn18 reports on the dangers of too much and too little sleep on adults as well children.

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