A recent study has shown that poor sleeping habits may increase the risk of heart disease. Young and middle-aged adults who slept too long or too little or had poor sleep quality were found to be more likely to show early signs of heart disease than their peers who had adequate, good quality sleep.
Study researcher Chan-Won Kim of Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicin, Seoul, South Korea commented:
Inadequate sleep is a common problem and a likely source of poor health, including visible signs of disease, such as heart attack."
The study included more than 47,000 young and middle-aged adults, all of whom completed a sleep questionnaire. Each participant was assessed for early signs of coronary artery lesions (by determining calcium levels in the coronary arteries) and arterial stiffness (by measuring the time between arm and ankle pulses).
High coronary artery calcium levels are indicative of early coronary artery lesions. The results showed that coronary artery calcium levels were 50% higher in adults who routinely only have up to 5 hours sleep a day compared with those who sleep 7 hours a day. Even higher coronary calcium levels were found in those participants who slept at least 9 hours a day, being 70% higher than in those who had 7 hours sleep a day.
Poor sleep quality, irrespective of duration, was associated with a 20% increase in coronary calcium levels compared with good sleep quality.
Lead author Yoosoo Chang of Kangbuk Samsun Hospital explained that similar results were observed for arterial stiffness:
Adults with poor sleep quality have stiffer arteries than those who sleep seven hours a day or had good sleep quality. Overall, we saw the lowest levels of vascular disease in adults sleeping seven hours a day and reporting good sleep quality."
The authors of the study also highlighted the potential that their research had underestimated the cardiovascular risk as a result of sleep duration and quality being based on the participants own assessment.
Sleep quality and duration thus appear to be important factors in maintaining cardiovascular health. Appraisal of sleep patterns could therefore be included in assessments for evaluating a patient's cardiovascular risk.
- American Heart Association News 10 September 2015. Available at: heart.org