Research Review: Sleep important for a healthy heart

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Poor or inadequate sleep can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and cardiometabolic disease, according to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association.

Published ahead of print in the journal Circulation, the authors report that sleep apnoea and insomnia can increase disease risk.  In particular, sleeping less than 7 hours per night can put people at risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, abnormal blood fats, arrhythmias, heart failure, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Sleeping longer than 9 hours has also been linked with obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.

These studies only show associations, and not cause and effect, and further research is needed to determine whether improving sleep can reduce disease risk. However the statement recommends  increasing awareness about the importance of sleep and say that healthy sleep behaviours should be promoted along with other lifestyle factors associated with cardiovascular disease including diet, exercise and smoking cessation.

Source: St-Onge MP, Grandner MA, Brown D, et al. Sleep duration and quality: Impact on lifestyle behaviors and cardiometabolic health. Circulation 2016; DOI:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000444.

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