Causes of Heart Attacks – Effects of Short and Long Sleep Study

  • Sleeping between 6 and 9 hours a night appears to be optimal for heart health, according to a study by the University of Colorado Boulder published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
  • People with a genetically increased risk of heart disease can reduce their risk of heart by getting enough sleep by 18 percent.
  • are still researching how sleep affects heart health, but trying to get more sleep when you sleep too little – and seeing your doctor to rule out underlying health issues if you’re a chronic late riser – could increase your risk of heart attack .

    You can drive a lot, eat well, avoid cigarettes, be built like a world tour pro, and have no genetic predisposition to heart disease, but if you skimp on your sleep – or get in excess – your heart may still be at risk, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study of nearly half a million people published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

    In the study, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Manchester analyzed the genetic information, self-reported sleeping habits and medical records of 461,000 participants in the UK biobank aged 40 to 69 who had never had a heart attack followed them for seven years .

    Those who slept less than six hours a night had a 20 percent higher risk of having a heart attack than those who dozed 7 to 8 hours a night during the study period. And those who have logged for more than nine hours? They were 34 percent more likely to have a heart attack than the middle sleepers.

    The risk of myocardial infarction increased the further the patient fell outside the 6- to 9-hour optimum. Those who only closed their eyes for five hours a night were 52 percent higher risk than those who got 7 to 8 hours a night. Late risers who slept 10 hours each night were twice as likely to have a heart attack.

    The risk persisted even when the researchers considered 30 other common cardiovascular risk factors, including habitual exercise level, mental health, body composition, and socioeconomic status.

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    In addition, getting optimal sleep also reduced the risk of heart for people with a family history of heart disease: For those with a genetic predisposition, sleeping between 6 and 9 hours a night reduced their risk of heart attack by 18 percent.

    “It is hopeful news that regardless of your inherited risk of heart attack, a healthy amount of sleep can reduce that risk, as can a healthy diet, quitting smoking and other lifestyle approaches,” said lead author Iyas Daghlas, a Harvard medical student, in a press release .

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    How exactly short or long sleep increases the risk of heart is not 100 percent known. However, abundant research shows that chronic sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on the body by increasing systemic inflammation, disrupting normal appetite and satiety hormones, and impairing immunity, making you more prone to a variety of diseases including obesity, diabetes and heart disease, and even early death.

    “We believe that increasing sleep is beneficial for heart health, and there are ongoing studies examining just that,” senior author Celine Vetter, an assistant professor of integrative physiology, told cycling.

    And sleep too much? This can also increase inflammation in your body, which has also been linked to cardiovascular disease. But what to do when you’re at the end of the spectrum is less clear, Vetter said. (For one thing, there aren’t a lot of people who do this – only about 7 percent of people in the US regularly drive 9 hours or more, she said).

    Sleep expert Christopher Winter, MD, president of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine and author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How To Fix It believes genetics, as well as underlying (and possibly undiscovered) health problems, may play a role in what are known as late risers.

    Some people may just genetically need more than the average amount of sleep, Winter said. In this case, it probably doesn’t suggest anything more sinister.

    In other cases, however, their need for sleep may reflect an undiagnosed health problem, such as depression or sleep apnea, which disrupts their quality of sleep and allows them to compensate with more quantity. In this case a doctor’s visit would be appropriate. Other factors like side effects from medication or a difficult sleep schedule related to work could also play a role, he said.

    In these cases, Winter says, it’s worth making an appointment with your doctor to talk about your sleep problems, determine underlying causes, and find ways to get a better sleep schedule – this could potentially improve your health as well Lower your risk of heart attack.


    “The Fit Chick”
    Selene Yeager is a best-selling professional health and fitness writer who lives what she writes as a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Certified USA Cycling Trainer, Certified Pn1 Nutritional Trainer, Professional Off-Road Racer, and All-American Ironman Triathlete.

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