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Improving Sleep Can Lower The Risk of Heart Attack

Key Highlights

  • Two new studies were presented at the American College of Cardiology’s annual conference.
  • The finding of the studies has highlighted the importance of sleep habits for maintaining a healthy heart and extending lifespan. 

The leading cardiology conference presented two studies this week which found that insomnia could increase the likelihood of having a heart attack while consistently maintaining good quality sleep habits could enhance life expectancy.

Details on The First Study

The first study presented at the American College of Cardiology analyzed data on over one million adults from six different countries and found that individuals with insomnia are 69% more likely to experience a heart attack than those without a sleep disorder. 

The study categorized participants as having insomnia if they experienced at least one of three symptoms, including difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, or waking up too early in the morning. Participants with these symptoms for at least three days a week for three months were considered to have insomnia.

Over an average of nine years of follow-up, individuals who habitually slept for five or fewer hours per night were 56% more likely to experience a heart attack than those who slept for the recommended eight hours a night, regardless of age or gender. The researchers hope their findings will raise awareness of the importance of sleep for maintaining a healthy heart.

Yomna E. Dean, a medical student at Alexandria University in Egypt and the first author of the study, noted that many people might not realize the significance of getting enough sleep. Dean added that people who habitually sleep for five or fewer hours a night, even if they do not have insomnia, may be at increased risk of experiencing a heart attack. Approximately 10% of Americans have some form of insomnia, with women more likely to be affected due to common risk factors such as anxiety and depression.

Details on the Second Study

The second study presented at the conference focused on sleep quality, finding that good sleep habits can benefit overall health and increase life expectancy. The study found that individuals with the highest quality sleep lived longer, with men gaining an additional 4.7 years of life and women gaining an additional 2.4 years. Researchers also discovered that 8% of deaths from any cause could be attributed to poor sleeping patterns.

Dr. Sanjay Patel, the director of the Center for Sleep and Cardiovascular Outcomes Research at the University of Pittsburgh, noted that short bouts of insomnia are often caused by stress. However, he expressed concern that some individuals may become more anxious and experience worsened insomnia after learning the link between sleep and heart health. Patel explained that worrying about not getting enough sleep can make it even harder to fall asleep and exacerbate the problem.

The findings of these studies underscore the importance of getting enough high-quality sleep for maintaining a healthy heart and increasing lifespan.

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