Short and long sleep duration linked to heart risk

Sleeping for more or less than seven hours a day may be an indication for an underlying risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), US research suggests.

Researchers from the West Virginia University School of Medicine showed that people who regularly slept for five hours or less were 2.2 times as likely to have suffered CVD in the past as those who slept for seven hours. In addition, those sleeping for nine hours or more had a 1.6 times greater risk of developing CVD.

Writing online in the journal Sleep, the authors said a person’s sleeping patterns could be an important marker for CVD risk.

The research team analysed the responses of 30,397 adults to a health questionnaire, and included data on average sleeping time adjusted for lifestyle factors such as smoking, diabetes and hypertension. The primary outcome was a prior incident of CVD, including angina, MI and stroke.

The researchers found that respondents who slept for less than seven hours were more likely to have suffered from angina, while both short and long durations of sleep were associated with patients having suffered from MI and stroke. The association was also found to be dose dependent.

Study lead Dr Anoop Shankar said: ‘Our study findings may have important clinical and public health implications, such as screening for changes in sleep duration by primary care physicians as a potential risk factor for cardiovascular disease, or initiating public health initiatives focusing on improving sleep quality and quantity.’

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