Sleeping less than six hours a day increases our cardiovascular risk



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People who sleep less than six hours a day may have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those who do it between seven and eight hours, as suggested by the results of the PESA CNIC-Santander study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. (JACC).

According to research, sleep & # 39; poor quality increases the risk of atherosclerosis (accumulation of plaque in the entire body artery). "Until now we have tried to understand cardiovascular disease but, thanks to research like this, we have begun to understand health," said Valentin Fuster, general director of the Spanish National Cardiovascular Research Center (CNIC).

"There are two things we do every day: eating and sleeping. For years we have known the connection between good nutrition and cardiovascular health; however, we don't have much information about the relationship between sleep and cardiovascular health," said study lead author , José M. Ordovás, CNIC researcher and director of Nutrition and Genomics at the Center for Nutrition Research on Aging Jean Mayer Human-USDA at Tufts University (United States).

"Cardiovascular disease is a big problem throughout the world. At present we are preventing and treating affected people with different methods – therapy, physical activity and diet – but these results emphasize that we must include dreams as & # 39 ; tool & # 39; to fight them, "said Ordovás.

"This is the first study to show that objectively measured sleep is independently associated with atherosclerosis throughout the body, not just in the heart," he added.

Previous research has shown that sleep deprivation increases the risk of cardiovascular disease by increasing risk factors for heart disease, such as glucose levels, blood pressure, inflammation and obesity.

"In our study, which included nearly 4,000 participants, we have evaluated the effects of sleep duration or fragmentation on atherosclerosis. Thus, we have seen that participants who sleep less than 6 hours a day or have very fragmented and poor sleep quality have more cholesterol plaques, compared to those who sleep more or have less fragmented sleep, the authors of the first article. "Duration and quality of sleep is very important for heart health."

In this study, imaging techniques were used to detect the prevalence and rate of development of subclinical vascular lesions in populations with an average age of 46 years. All participants were free of known heart disease and two thirds were male. All volunteers used actigraph for seven days, a small device that continuously measures activity or movement, to measure dream characteristics.

They were divided into four groups: those who slept less than six hours, six to seven hours, seven to eight hours and those who slept more than eight hours. Participants underwent 3D heart ultrasound and CT scans to detect heart disease.

The study found, after considering traditional risk factors for heart disease, that participants who slept less than six hours were 27% more likely to experience atherosclerosis throughout the body, compared with those who did it. seven to eight hours.

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Sleeping less than needed definitely leads to health problems. (Photo: Pixabay)

In addition, those who have poor sleep quality are 34% more likely to experience atherosclerosis, compared to those who have good sleep quality.

Sleep quality is determined by the frequency of someone waking up at night and the frequency of their movements during sleep, which reflects their various phases. While the number of participants who slept more than eight hours was small, the study also showed that excessive sleep can be associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis, especially in women.

For Ordovás, this work is different from previous research that has been done on sleep and heart health. First, it is bigger and focuses on a healthy population. In addition, many of the previous works have included people with sleep apnea or other health problems or have been based on questionnaires to determine how many participants slept. However, in this case, actigrafos has been used to obtain objective sleep measures. "What people report about their dreams is often different from reality," concluded Ordovás. (Source: CNIC / SINC)

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