In an exciting new study, researchers revealed that poor quality and/or an insufficient amount of sleep may be linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and elevated levels of inflammation. Most notably, they were able to establish a clear link between sleep quality and functional changes to blood vessels, though more research is needed on the specifics of other physical changes that may be directly associated with chronic sleep loss.
What’s specifically remarkable about these findings, in participants who reported six or less hours of sleep, the average C-reactive protein, (protein that increases when inflammation is present) levels were approximately 25 percent higher than levels measured in individuals who reported that they slept six to nine hours.
The exceptional study funded by the Morehouse-Emory Partnership to Eliminate Cardiovascular Health Disparities (META-Health), includes surveys taken from 525 middle-aged people and reported on two main factors: sleep quality and sleep duration. Alanna Morris, MD, a cardiology fellow at Emory University School of Medicine, said that acute sleep deprivation was a contributing factor for elevated production of inflammatory hormones in study participants. She shared what made this study distinctive, saying “Most of the studies looking at the body’s response to lack of sleep have looked at subjects who have been acutely sleep deprived for more than 24 hours in experimental sleep laboratories, nothing of this sort has been investigated in epidemiologic studies.”
Additionally, a progressive corresponding study by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) MONICA program (Multinational Monitoring of Trends and Determinants in Cardiovascular Disease) centered on 657 men, ranging from 25 to 65 years of age, in Novosibirsk, Russia, who had no prior medical history involving diabetes, stroke, or heart attack. In reference to study participants who were diagnosed with sleep disorders, Valery Gafarov, Professor of cardiology at the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences in Novosibirsk, Russia states, “In our study it was associated with double the risk of a heart attack and up to four times the risk of stroke.”
Gafarov expounded, saying, “Nearly 80 percent of deaths from cardiovascular disease are due to myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke. It is therefore necessary to engage in the intensive prevention of risk factors leading to the development of cardiovascular disease. Sleep is not a trivial issue.”
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