Poor sleep ups heart attack risk

People who get poor sleep may have an increased risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke, a new study has found.

According to Russian researchers, sleep disorders ‘are very closely related to the presence of cardiovascular diseases'.

"However, until now there has not been a population based cohort study examining the impact of sleep disorders on the development of a heart attack or stroke," they said.

They set out to investigate this further. They looked at over 650 men aged between 25 and 64, with no history of heart attack, stroke or diabetes.

The sleep quality of the participants was assessed using a recognised scale and if they were found to have very bad, bad or poor measurements, they were considered to have a sleep disorder. Cases of heart attack and stroke were then recorded over a 14-year period.

The study found that almost two in three (63%) participants who had a heart attack also had a sleep disorder.

Overall, men with a sleep disorder were up to 2.6 times more likely to suffer a heart attack and up to four times more likely to suffer a stroke compared to men without a sleep disorder.

"Sleeping disorders were associated with greatly increased incidences of both heart attack and stroke. We also found that the rates of heart attack and stroke in men with sleeping disorders were related to the social gradient, with the highest incidences in those who were widowed or divorced, had not finished secondary school, and were engaged in medium to heavy manual labour," explained Prof Valery Gafarov of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences.

He emphasised that sleep ‘is not a trivial issue', and insisted that poor sleep should be considered a modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease, along with smoking, poor diet and a lack of exercise.

"Guidelines should add sleep as a risk factor to recommendations for preventing cardiovascular disease. For most people, good quality sleep is seven to eight hours of rest each night. People who are not sleeping well should speak to their doctor.

"Our previous research showed that sleeping disorders are very closely connected with depression, anxiety and hostility, so speaking with a psychologist may also help," Prof Gafarov added.

Details of these findings were presented at EuroHeartCare 2015, the annual meeting of the Council on Cardiovascular Nursing and Allied Professions (CCNAP) of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). The meeting was held in Croatia.

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[Posted: Sun 21/06/2015]

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