Can Less Sleep Increase Death Risk From Heart Diseases?

A new research suggests that sleeping for less than six hours can double an individual’s death risk from heart diseases or stroke. This is applicable to individuals who suffer from heart diseases and are susceptible to diabetes.

A cluster of heart risk factors is called metabolic syndrome and includes high level of LDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high levels of triglycerides — a kind of blood fat —obesity, and low levels of good cholesterol or HDL. An individual with any three of the above-mentioned symptoms suffers from metabolic syndrome.

Early Death Risk For Individuals With Metabolic Syndrome?

The study’s lead researcher Julio Fernandez-Mendoza stated that improvement in sleeping hours for individuals with metabolic syndrome may prevent worsening of stroke or cardiovascular diseases, which can up early death risk due to insufficient sleep.

Medoza asserted that the study in no way established the fact that only individuals with metabolic syndrome — who suffer from lack of sleep — are at increased early death risk from heart diseases. The study hints that a possible link between the two may exist and several factors can be held responsible for the association.

Fernandez-Mendoza says that from a behavioral perspective, individuals with a sedentary lifestyle may also suffer from insufficient sleep and a poor diet, which could pose as risk factors — an aspect the study did not consider.

However, from a biological viewpoint, the researchers discovered that less sleeping hours could up the death risk in people suffering from high blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

Fernandez-Mendoza asserted that in-depth studies would be required to learn more about a possible link between metabolic syndrome and poor sleep, which leads to increase in premature death risk. He noted that sleep should be considered as a factor while evaluating or examining cardiovascular death risk.

Poor Sleep Linked To Death Risk: How Was The Association Found?

To ascertain whether poor sleep was linked to death risk, the researchers selected 1,300 women and men randomly and asked them to spend a night in a sleep lab. The average age of all the participants was 49 years and 39 percent of the subject had at least three metabolic syndrome risk factors.

After a follow-up period of 17 years, the team found that 22 percent subjects had died. They also discovered that people having metabolic syndrome symptoms were twice more likely to die from heart diseases if they did not get a minimum of six hours of sleep.

However, the death risk from heart diseases increased one and a half times in individuals with metabolic syndrome who slept over six hours. The researchers also found that individuals with metabolic syndrome and poor sleep had double the risk of premature death from any cause vis-à-vis those who did not have metabolic syndrome.

“It is possible that people with metabolic syndrome and short sleep have more severe problems related to their anatomic nervous system and metabolism. We need future studies that examine these hypotheses in combination, and in different groups of people with metabolic syndrome,” the lead author remarked.

The study’s findings were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association on Wednesday, May 24.

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