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Heart attack risk link to sleep

17th November 2008

Researchers in Japan say that people who get less than seven and a half hours' sleep a night are at greater risk of developing heart disease, especially if they have elevated blood pressure in their sleep.

Sleeping

The combination of little sleep and overnight elevated blood pressure appeared to be associated with an increased risk of the disease, according to Kazuo Eguchi and colleagues at the Jichi Medical University in Togichi.

The report, which was partially funded by grants-in-aid from the Foundation for the Development of the Community in Tochigi, the Banyu Fellowship Program and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, said that people sleep less nowadays amid the hustle and bustle of modern living than they used to.

Getting not enough, or too much, sleep has been identified as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease including sleep-disordered breathing and night-time hypertension (high blood pressure).

Adequate amounts of sleep are also essential to the prevention of other health conditions like obesity and diabetes.

Eguchi's team monitored 1,255 individuals with hypertension, with an average age of 70.4, following them for an average of 50 months.

The duration of patients' sleep, their daytime and nighttime blood pressure and cardiovascular disease events such as stroke, heart attack and sudden cardiac death, were noted.

Sleep duration of less than 7.5 hours was associated with incident cardiovascular disease, researchers concluded. In all, a total of 99 cardiovascular events occurred during the follow-up period.

The incidence of cardiovascular disease was 2.4 per 100 person-years in subjects with less than 7.5 hours of sleep and 1.8 per 100 person-years in subjects with longer sleep duration.

Patients with shorter sleep duration plus an overnight increase in blood pressure had a higher incidence of heart disease than those with normal sleep duration plus no overnight increase in blood pressure.

However, there was less difference between the long-sleeping and the short-sleeping groups in the absence of nighttime hypertension.

Researchers said that shorter duration of sleep was found to be a predictor of incident cardiovascular disease in elderly individuals with hypertension.

This was particularly true when it occurred with elevated nighttime blood pressure.

The authors recommended that physicians inquire about sleep duration when doing risk assessments of patients with hypertension.


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