Having Adequate Sleep Can Improve Heart Health, Study Shows

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A recent study suggests that poor sleep, trouble falling asleep, waking up early, and sleeping less than six hours, is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, among other health problems. The study found that having a combination of these sleep problems could almost triple the risk of heart disease in people in midlife.

Lack of enough sleep attributed to heart disease

According to Dr. Lawrence Epstein, a sleep specialist and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, a recent study emphasizes the significance of obtaining adequate sleep. Dr. Epstein points out that several factors can lead to insufficient sleep, such as not allocating enough time for rest, disruptive habits, medical conditions, or sleep disorders that affect the quality and amount of sleep.

The study analyzed data from 7,483 adults in midlife in the United States Study, including information on their heart disease history and sleep habits. In addition, a subset of 663 participants wore a wrist device that tracked their sleep activity. Over half of the participants were female, with the majority identifying as white and 16% as Black. The average age of the group was 53.

The study focused on midlife individuals who encounter various stressors in their work and family life. It is also when heart disease and sleep issues begin to manifest. The researchers asked participants about heart problems, including chest pain and heart conditions confirmed by a doctor. Participants who answered “yes” were asked follow-up questions about their diagnosis, including angina, heart attack, irregular heartbeat, heart valve disease, and heart failure.

Sleep problems increase the risk of heart disease by 54%

The study accounted for variables such as family history of heart disease, smoking, and physical activity, as well as sex and race. Researchers found that self-reported sleep problems increased the risk of heart disease by 54%, but the risk increased to 141% when data from self-reports and wrist-worn actigraphy devices combined.

The study found that women had more sleep problems, but men were more likely to have heart disease. In addition, White participants had fewer reports of sleep and heart-related problems compared to Black participants.

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